Asparagus is expensive- even more so when one considers how much woodiness typically needs to be cut off! There are few things more disappointing than tough and stringy asparagus. Recently, my parents bestowed a bounty of asparagus upon me from their garden in Vermont. Those tender spears were to-die-for (and free) so I think that I’ll be swearing off of grocery-store asparagus for the rest of my life!
We’re at the tail-end of this year’s asparagus season, but keep this recipe in mind for next year’s crop!
Fun fact: Madame de Pompadour would eat just the tips of the asparagus; perhaps her hold on the affections of King Louis XV could be partially attributed to these points d’amour, considered an aphrodisiac by some (Wikipedia)?
Cooking tip: This recipe includes pancetta (Italian bacon) which is incredibly salty. Whenever cooking with this, go light on the salt since the pancetta is already bringing a lot to the party!
Yes, this dish is unfair: how can one possibly go wrong with two luxurious and widely-loved ingredients?
One night for dinner, I had a few things ready for me and my husband to eat… but then that gorgeous plate of asparagus featured at the top of this post happened… obviously, all of the other food went untouched as we polished off the asparagus!
Recipe: Asparagus & Pancetta Sauté
Adapted from Food 52’s Absurdly Addictive Asparagus
4ounces pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
2 cloves garlic, minced
half of an onion, minced
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon of lemon and orange zest, or a dash of lemon juice
Optional: 30 grams toasted walnut pieces or sliced almonds
Optional: 1 cup leek, thinly sliced crosswise, both white and green parts
In a large pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.
Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan.
Add asparagus pieces and onion (plus optional leek) and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.
Add garlic, citrus (your choice of the zests or lemon juice), and nuts for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.