This quick, easy dish is a terrific spring side or main
Fresh, local asparagus? We can’t get enough of it. Asparagus season is short, so we enjoy it while we can.
In this dish, for instance. It combines asparagus with bacon and tomato in a quick stir-fry.
Asparagus and bacon. What more could we want in life?
Recipe: Asparagus, Bacon, and Tomato Stir-Fry
We call this dish stir-fry because it’s made fairly quickly, and all in one pan (we use a large frying pan, but a wok works too). You could also call this a sauté or a skillet dish. You get the idea, in any case.
Asparagus spears vary in diameter (some are thick, some thin). But that doesn’t matter for this dish – their flavor will be the same. The only difference is that thicker asparagus takes longer to cook, so adjust your timing accordingly.
Prep time plus cooking time for this dish adds up to about 20 minutes.
This recipe yields about 2 main-course servings, or 4 side-dish servings.
- ~1 pound asparagus
- ~4 ounces bacon, preferably thick sliced (or more, to taste)
- ~¼ cup shallots, minced
- salt to taste (a couple pinches of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise or across their width
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)
- Cut off the tough butt ends of the asparagus spears (about 2 inches). Rinse the asparagus, then cut it into pieces of about 1 to 2 inches. Set aside.
- Slice the bacon into pieces of about 1 inch. Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat and add the bacon to the pan. Cook the bacon pieces until they’re brown and crisp – 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and drain them on a paper towel.
- Add the minced shallots to the bacon fat in the frying pan and season with salt to taste. Sauté the shallots for about 2 minutes. Then add the chopped asparagus (from Step 1). Cook the asparagus for about 5 minutes, until it’s just slightly crunchy (cook a couple of minutes longer if you want total tenderness). Add the tomatoes and cook them for a minute or two (until they’re thoroughly warm).
- Taste the mixture, then adjust the salt if necessary and add black pepper if you like.
- Ingredient quantities are flexible in this recipe, so adjust to your taste.
- Don’t have shallots on hand? You could substitute onion. And maybe add a clove of garlic to the mix.
- We generally use about a cup or so of grape or cherry tomatoes when we make this dish, but you may want to add more (up to 2 cups).
- You could use standard-size tomatoes (diced up), but they won’t have much flavor at this time of year. Cherry and grape tomatoes, at least in our market, are the ones that are most flavorful right now, so that’s what we use. And their size works well in this recipe.
- We cook the tomatoes briefly, so they don’t break down and release many of their juices. You may prefer to cook them longer (up to 10 minutes).
- We sometimes add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice to this dish right before serving – the extra acid helps brighten the flavor. Tomatoes contain acid too, of course, so taste before doing this.
- We sometimes also add a teaspoon of dried thyme (or other herb of choice).
- We don’t think this dish needs garnish. But a sprinkling of chopped parsley or some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wouldn’t be amiss.
- Want a substitute for bacon? You could use chopped pancetta or guanciale. Or prosciutto.
- Bacon tends to be salty, so use salt sparingly in this dish. You can always adjust the seasoning right before serving.
- Speaking of salt: We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love all the asparagus we’ve been having,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “It’s springtime on a plate.”
“Yup,” I said. “The birds are twittering, the lilac is blooming, and we’re chowing down on asparagus. Makes me feel frolicsome.”
“What shallot be next time?” said Mrs K R. “Asparagus à la mode?”
“Nyet,” I said. "But Asparagus with Savory Whipped Cream? Hmmm, that’s one of our faves. Maybe I could riff on that a bit.”
“Putting ideas into your head again,” said Mrs K R. “Dangerous.”
“You can count on me to be responsible in the kitchen,” I said. “Most of the time.”
“And we have 1-800-Got-Mess on speed dial,” said Mrs K R.
So I won’t despairagus
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