Absurdly Addictive Asparagus

by Anne Bennett on June 2, 2012

Is this asparagus dish absurdly addictive? According to the web site food 52 it is. It was the winner of the “Your Best Asparagus Recipe” contest.

The site, launched by New York Times cookbook author Amanda Hess, invites cooks to enter their own recipes into weekly contests and then vote for their favorites. Another recipe that I recently tried and loved was the winner of “Your Best New Years Resolution dish”: One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf.

With regards to this asparagus recipe, I think it’s delicious the way it was written but I can easily see adapting it to suit your own tastes. For instance, it calls for thinly sliced leeks. I used them here, but I’m going to try sliced green onions next time just for fun.

It also calls for pancetta, which is unsmoked Italian bacon. If you like regular bacon, go ahead and use it instead. I’m also thinking of using prosciutto next time, as it’s leaner than either pancetta or bacon yet still adds the salty flavor.

The toasted pine nuts are a must. To toast them, I heat a skillet, add the pine nuts and shake the pan until they begin to brown all over. Pine nuts brown very quickly, and I’ve burned them so many times that I now watch them constantly.

Absurbly Addictive Asparagus

4 oz. pancetta, prosciutto or bacon
1 T. butter
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed & sliced on the bias into 2″ long pieces
1 cup leek, thinly sliced (white and pale green parts), or green onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 t. orange zest
2 T. toasted pine nuts (see above)
1-2 T. chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper

In a large nonstick pan saute pancetta or bacon until crisp and lightly browned. Add 1 T. butter, asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus are tender crisp, about 3 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon into serving dish, top with pine nuts and parsley and serve.

Although this is made to be eaten immediately after cooking, I made it in the late afternoon and served it with dinner at room temperature.

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