Fennel carpaccio with grilled asparagus & roasted onions with pomegranate

Full-fledged spring in Germany is only officially acknowledged with the start of the “Spargel Saison” – the asparagus season. The white one, mind you. His green brother is treated rather stepmotherly – no one can shine next to the “king of vegetables”. Every region has the one village where supposedly the best stems are growing. In Berlin there is something like a cult about the asparagus from the Brandenburg village Beelitz. There is so much “Beelitzer Spargel” on the market that one wonders whether this village might indeed equal the size of Berlin…

Fennel carpaccio with grilled asparagus

However, while I enjoy the yearly ritual of the classical white asparagus dish, I actually much prefer the green one. It is easier to prepare – no shaving necessary – and one doesn’t even have to cook it, but can sauté it directly in the pan. A gorgeous topping for every spring salad, risotto or pasta dish! So I thought I am going to make it the star of todays post with a rather minimalist recipe that lives of its ingredient’s individual flavours rather than some fuss.

I stumbled a while ago upon this beautiful little onion and pomegranate side dish, which has what it takes to become the centre of attention on every table. There is little more beautiful (we are talking edibles) than a pomegranate, is there? So I thought why not align the king of vegetables with the queen of fruits. And I can tell you, it’s a truly great combination. The warmth of the roasted onions sets a delicious balance to the freshness of the asparagus and the fennel. Serve as a starter to a stunning spring menu.

Roasted red onion with pomegranate seeds

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
60ml pomegranate molasses (make sure, you don’t buy one that is additionally sweetened!)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 springs of fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 medium red onions, peeled, each cut into 8 wedges through core, with some core still attached to each piece

ca. 80g fresh pomegranate seeds
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp finely grated orange peel

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 220°C. Peel the onions, and cut into 8 wedges. Cut through the core, but make sure that some core is still attached to each piece. Whisk first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Place onions in an ovenproof dish and toss gently in the dressing. Arrange onions close together, 1 cut side down; spoon with the dressing. Roast 20 minutes. Using a small spatula, carefully turn onions over. Continue to roast onions until tender and thickly coated with glaze, watching to prevent overbrowning, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove from oven.

For the topping, mix pomegranate seeds, parsley, and orange peel in small bowl.
Arrange warm or room-temperature onions on platter. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over and serve.
Fennel carpaccio with grilled asparagus
1 fennel bulb
1 mozzarella di bufala
ca. 200g green asparagus
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp salt preserved capers
3 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp good quality olive oil
2 tbsp flat leave parsley, chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds
freshly ground black pepper
Trimm the fennel and set the green fonds aside to decorate with later. Shave as thinly as possible with a mandoline or a sharp knife. Arrange like a fan on a plate. Roast the fennel seeds in a pan without oil and set aside. Cut off hard ending of the asparagus and grill a few minutes in a griddle pan, until just tender. Slice the mozzarella. Wash of excess salt of the capers and the anchovies and chop both a little. Whisk together olive oil and lemon juice. Arrange asparagus on top of the fennel, and place the mozzarella above. Sprinkle with capers, anchovies, fennel seeds, parsley, fennel fonds, drizzle with the dressing and season generously with black pepper.