We've been buying such lovely organic asparagus lately. The bunch I used for this dish were delightful - so young and tender - like slender green pencils. Ah, springtime...
This recipe was inspired by my next-door neighbor, Dale, who graciously invited us to join him and his family -- he and his wife have four adorable kids -- for dinner the other night. He'd made a very tasty tomato sauce with pasta and these delicious asparagus (turns out that all their kids love asparagus!)
What follows is probably a fairly rough interpretation of Dale's recipe (our son was starting to melt down by the end of the meal so my attention was a little divided while Dale was explaining how he'd prepared them) but it turned out very tasty so I'm sharing it with you all.
The creamy goat cheese, shallot and bacon complement the fresh flavor of the asparagus in a most addictive way... I added the toasted, candied pecans and liked the little hits of sweet nuttiness they provide. Enjoy!
Asparagus With Goat Cheese & Toasted Pecans
* 1 bunch fresh asparagus, washed, with the woody ends removed (bend them until you find the point at which they snap naturally -- that's the place to break 'em!)
* 1 large shallot (or a small onion will work well if you can't find shallots)
* 1 strip of bacon, chopped into small pieces
* 2 oz soft goat cheese, crumbled into small pieces
* Generous handful of candied pecans - here are two ways to candy nuts- one is quicker and easier but results in stickier nuts and the other is a little bit more time-consuming but the nuts don't turn out sticky and they keep better.
1. Bring a good-sized pot of water to boil. While you're waiting for it to reach a boil, chop the shallot or onion finely, then add the bacon to a medium-hot frying pan or skillet. If the bacon does not render enough fat on its own to fry the shallot in, just add a little glug of olive oil or butter to the pan. Once the fat or oil is hot, add the shallot and sautee until softened and translucent - 3-5 minutes. Turn off heat and remove from the pan from burner.
2. Once the water has reached a boil, add the asparagus and blanch them for roughly 2 minutes or until the stalks reach the desired level of doneness (is that a word?!) Remove them with a slotted spoon, drain and then add them to the frying pan with the shallot. Toss until the asparagus is well-coated with the shallot and bacon fat mixture. Add the goat cheese and transfer to a serving dish or platter. Garnish with the candied pecans and serve.
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