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Saturday, July 03, 2010

Asparagus with Pancetta

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Asparagus: I like to cook it many different ways. Sometimes I just blanch it in salted water for 3-5 minutes and squeeze some lemon on it. Sometimes a drizzle it with a tiny bit of olive oil and garlic and roast it in a 350 oven for 15 minutes. Alton Brown on The Food Network the other day rolled it in wet paper towels and cooked it for 3 minutes in the microwave and swore that was the best way to cook it. The French serve it with hollandaise, because they are French.

So why eat asparagus? Besides the delicious flavor it is super nutritious. Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is also a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.

This is a very decadent way to prepare asparagus with the addition of bacon — which, frankly, makes everything taste better. For those of you who enjoy the king of vegetables, Brussels sprouts, this recipe is divine with them as well.

4 ounces pancetta, cut into a fine dice (or use bacon)
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 1/4 cup leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1-2 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, lemon, orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.