Spring announces its arrival in many ways: trees start budding; flowers burst into colorful blooms; pollen appears on surfaces; people with allergies start sneezing. I know spring has sprung when I see asparagus, the quintessential spring vegetable, in the grocery store.
Fresh asparagus is in season from March -- in time for Easter -- until June. When choosing asparagus, look for stems that are crisp with tight tips that are green or purple. Asparagus is best used within a day or two of purchase.
Just like cranberries, I'm a late in life asparagus lover. I never liked asparagus but, to prove a point to my son, tried it again when it came with an entree I ordered at a restaurant. Much to my surprise, I loved it and have started looking for asparagus recipes to add to my recipe box.
The recipes I found using fresh asparagus were either grilled -- like I had in the restaurant -- or cooked with a sauce. Since I liked the grilled asparagus, I decided to see how I liked asparagus cooked with a sauce.
A lot of the recipes I found called for wrapping bundles of asparagus with bacon. This reminded me of the recipe I posted for green bean bundles. I decided to adapt that recipe using fresh asparagus. In order for the recipe to work properly, I had to alter the proportions and technique.
Rinse the asparagus in cold water and pat dry. Bend the bottom of one piece of asparagus until it breaks. This break is the dividing point between the tender and tough portion of the stalk.
Use this stalk as a guide to trim all the remaining asparagus to the same length.
The asparagus cooks in half the time of the green beans. Due to the shorter cooking time, the bacon might not be fully cooked when the asparagus is done. To solve this potential problem, I cook the bacon strips in the microwave for three minutes. This doesn't fully cook the bacon -- it's still pliable and easy to wrap around the asparagus -- but it gives it a head start.
I wrap the bacon around the spears in a spiral so it covers more surface area. You can wrap the bacon closer together if you prefer.
I had to increase the rest of the ingredients to make enough sauce. Instead of sprinkling the ingredients on the asparagus, I combine everything in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. That way, the sauce is heated through by the time the asparagus is done.
Pour the sauce over the asparagus bundles and bake 20 to 25 minutes, basting every 10 minutes. Don't overcook the asparagus or it will be limp. The bundles are best served as soon as they're removed from the oven. The leftovers don't do good reheated so I only prepare as many as I need for each meal.
The point I made to my son that night was to try food you don't like because tastes change over time. Asparagus will never be my favorite vegetable, but it's definitely one I'll eat again. Now that I've found an asparagus recipe that uses sauce, I need to find a good recipe for grilled asparagus.