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Potato, Asparagus & Fennel Ragoût

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Serves two to three as a main course.

  • by Fine Cooking staff from Fine Cooking
    Issue 56

  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, sliced into wedges about 1/2-inch thick at the widest point
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black-pepper 
  • 1 lb. thick asparagus, bottoms trimmed, spears cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large bulb fresh fennel (about 1 lb.), fibrous outer layer removed, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 10 oz. red-skinned potatoes (about 2 medium), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 Tbs. heavy cream
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard 
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh dill or flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lemon

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan or a small Dutch oven. Add the onion, along with a few pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion softens and starts to turn golden, about 5 min. Add the asparagus, fennel, and potatoes to the pot, along with a few more pinches of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are well coated with oil and the asparagus has turned bright green, 2 to 3 min. Add the chicken broth, raise the heat to high, and cover the pot. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and keep the broth at a lively simmer. Cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 7 to 10 min. Stir in the cream, mustard, dill or parsley, and a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Variations

You can use thin asparagus instead of thick, but add it 5 min. after you’ve added the fennel and potatoes.

Serving Suggestions

If you like, top the ragoût with a dollop of crème fraîche or sour cream and more chopped dill or parsley.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on three servings; Calories (kcal): 220; Fat (g): 12; Fat Calories (kcal): 110; Saturated Fat (g): 3; Protein (g): 9; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 24; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 480; Cholesterol (mg): 5; Fiber (g): 10;

Photo: Scott Phillips

This stew was very easy and quick to put together. I made it with dill, and the mustard and cream gave it a nice depth of flavor. My husband thought the stew was just OK, so it was up to me to eat the leftovers. That's how I learned that this ragout is best eaten fresh. The asparagus is easily overcooked upon reheating.

This is a light and flavorful dish, and is also quick and inexpensive. I followed the reviewer's advice and added the asparagus tips after 5 minutes of the ten minute simmer. I didn't have fresh dill, so I also added freeze-dried dill when I added the asparagus tips. The ragout, along with a good bread, makes an excellent weeknight supper.

This is such a simple, delicious springtime stew. I would recommend adding the tips of the asparagus about halfway through the cooking time so they don't overcook. Fresh herbs on each serving really brighten the taste up! I made a variation without the cream/mustard mixture, swirling in instead a dollop of sorrel pesto--it was delicious also, very nice if you don't want the creaminess in the original recipe.

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