Spring’s quintessential vegetable gets all dressed up.
Asparagus is so abundant this time of year it is hard not to overbuy it. (These days, asparagus may be the only thing that is not hard to get at the supermarket.) “Plain Jane” asparagus, gently steamed or roasted with only olive oil, salt, and pepper, maybe a spritz of fresh lemon juice, always makes a nice dish.
On the other hand, what if asparagus got the all-out treatment? What if roasted asparagus got topped with handfuls of delicious crumbled things like egg, toasted breadcrumbs, bacon, and fresh chives? And why not drizzle some rich balsamic syrup on there for good measure? (Did I mention bacon?)
Roasted Asparagus With Good Crumbled Things is the dish spring needs right now: flavorful and textural and fresh, salty and herbaceous, and bright with lemon and balsamic. It does require a few steps, but it is so worth it.
You may also enjoy: Spring Vegetable Farrotto and Burrata With Roasted Vine Tomatoes
A Few Recipe Notes: Roasted Asparagus With Crumbled Bacon, Egg, and Breadcrumbs
- This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by eliminating the bacon. There is still plenty of goodness to make it delicious.
- Buy asparagus that is thin, but not pencil thin. And if your asparagus is very thick, you may need to cut more than an inch off the bottom, and peel the bottom half of the asparagus so that the texture is not woody or tough.
- Do not overcook asparagus. Ever. Overcooked asparagus tastes stringy and mushy, and takes on a strange off-green color. Your goal is asparagus that still has snap and vibrancy, but has cooked through. I find that 20 minutes or so in a 350-degree Fahrenheit does the trick.
- This Campari 15-year aged balsamic syrup is my go-to. It is pricey, yes, but syrupy and sweet, with earthy coffee notes. And a little goes a long way; I usually go through less than one bottle per year. If you don’t want to use an aged balsamic vinegar, no problem. Just do a splash of regular balsamic. It will not have the same sweetness, but will still add good acid.
Did you make the recipe? How did it turn out? Share in the comments.
Roasted Asparagus With Good Crumbled Things
- 1 bunch asparagus, bottoms trimmed
- 1 lemon, zested, plus juice of 1/2 of the lemon
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to finish
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic syrup (optional)
- 1 hard-boiled egg, crumbled (directions follow)
- 3 strips bacon, crumbled (directions follows)
- 1/4 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs (directions follow; you'll use less than this)
- 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, such as chives or parsley, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 12 turns fresh-cracked black pepper
First Steps (These can be made up to several days in advance and refrigerated)
- Hard boil the egg: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add the egg, and cook at a low simmer for exactly 12 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. Peel. (See How to Make Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs for more thorough directions.)
- Toast breadcrumbs: In a small skillet, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the breadcrumbs over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and let toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from heat and reserve. PRO TIP: You will have some left over. Toasted breadcrumbs are always worth having around, and make excellent garnishes for hearty salads or pastas.
- Make the bacon: Set a medium skillet over medium-low heat, and add the bacon while the pan is still cold. When the bacon starts to sizzle, lower heat to low and cook, turning halfway, until the fat has rendered and the bacon has crisped up, about 10 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.TIP: Never put bacon grease down the sink. It will harden and clog. To dispose of bacon grease, let it cool a bit, then strain into a clean jar and refrigerate for future use, or dispose in the trash.
The Asparagus and Final Assembly
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line or lightly grease a rimmed baking sheet.
- Rinse the asparagus, and trim off the bottom inch or so. Arrange the asparagus on a single layer on the baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and the pepper. Toss. Roast the asparagus for about 20 minutes, or until just tender but still bright green.
- Meanwhile, zest and halve the lemon, crumble the hard-boiled egg and bacon. I use a cutting board and knife for the bacon and my hands for the egg. Mince the fresh herbs. Set each aside separately on a plate along with 3 tablespoons of the breadcrumbs. You want separate little piles instead of mixing everything so you can build the layers.
- Place the cooked asparagus neatly on a serving dish. Drizzle with the balsamic, if using, and the lemon juice.
- Layer half of the bacon, half the breadcrumbs, egg, and some zest on the middle center of the asparagus. Repeat with the rest of the bacon, breadcrumbs, and egg, finishing by topping with fresh herbs, another splash of olive oil, and the rest of the zest. Serve warm.