600g slim asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1 fennel bulb, stalks trimmed off flat leaf parsley
pecorino cheese for shaving over salad
1⁄4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
fine zest of 1⁄2 lemon
2 cloves garlic, chopped
12 basil leaves, roughly chopped
1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
125 ml extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Blanch the asparagus in boiling, salted water until just tender, remove and immediately plunge into iced water. When cold, drain and dry gently on paper towels. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut out the tough core and slice crosswise into very thin slices. A mandolin will do this quickly and easily. Refrigerate in water until ready to use.
Vinaigrette: Put the lemon juice, zest, garlic, basil leaves, and the sugar in a food processor and blend well. With the motor running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream. Season.
To serve: Toss the asparagus with some of the vinaigrette and arrange on a serving platter.
In the same bowl, toss the drained fennel with more dressing and a handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, then arrange on top of the asparagus.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave the pecorino over the salad. Serves 6