This interpretation of pickled beets tastes less acidic and more complex than the version you might remember from childhood. It’s also ready in minutes instead of days.
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1 bunch (about 10 ounces) baby beets
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 to 2 whole star anise pods
Fronds from 1 fennel bulb
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup sour cream
Trim tops of beets. Simmer beets in a large saucepan filled with salted water for about 30 minutes or until tender. Immerse beets in cold water and rub off skins.
Slice beets thinly and arrange in a shallow heatproof dish. Combine balsamic vinegar, water and star anise pods in a small saucepan and heat to just below boiling point. Pour hot vinegar mixture over beets, making sure beets are completely submerged. Let beets sit to pickle for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, coarsely chop fennel fronds and set aside.
Remove beets from pickling liquid and blot with a paper towel before arranging on a large serving dish or individual plates. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream.