Menu planning is one of my favorite and least-favorite times of the week. I have plenty of great ideas for main dishes but I tend to cycle through the same few vegetable sides over and over. Lately, it has been roasted broccoli and roasted asparagus.
I could eat roasted asparagus and broccoli every other night of the week and never get tired of it. And The Little adores “green sticks” and “baby trees”… even though she requires “white sauce” (ranch dressing) along side them both for dipping.
But hey. At least it’s not ketchup?
The other 1/3 of our household – not so overly crazy about roasted asparagus, ranch dressing or not. But since I had it on the menu three times this week, I decided to fancy it up with a little bacon.
Because If I’ve learned anything over the years about trying to make something green more appealing to picky eaters, it’s that bacon is usually the first – and only – step that you have to take. Last night’s roasted asparagus with bacon vinaigrette was no different.
And it’s a pretty easy dish to throw together, albeit in a bit of organized chaos. While the asparagus is roasting in the oven (right along side your main dish), chop the shallot and fry the bacon for the vinaigrette. By the time the asparagus is done, so is the dressing. And by the time I finished the side and chopped a quick green salad and shoved the entire contents of my “leftover bowl” cabinet back into the cabinet (do kids ever grow out of that stage?), the main dish was ready.
Organized chaos. It’s a delicious thing.
And so is bacon.
Roasted Asparagus with Bacon Vinaigrette
Roasted asparagus dressed up with a warm bacon vinaigrette.
For the asparagus:
1 1/2-2 lbs asparagus, woody ends trimmed
For the vinaigrette:
3 slices bacon, diced
3/4 cup chopped shallot (~1 1/2 medium shallots)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 400 (or if you're baking a main dish alongside, whatever that recipe requires and then adjust the cooking time for the asparagus).
Line a baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle the asparagus with just a little olive oil - just enough to keep it from sticking to the foil - and bake on the lined baking sheet for ~15 minutes (thinner stalks a few minutes shorter, extra thick stalks longer).
Over medium-high heat, fry the chopped bacon to a crisp in a medium pan.
Transfer bacon pieces with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving behind as much fat in the pan as possible.
Reduce heat to medium and saute the shallots until softened, 3-5 minutes.
Turn off the heat and add the white wine vinegar, stirring and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Stir in the mustard and olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
If the dressing seems a little strong, add another teaspoon of olive oil. (I personally like the sharpness but you might want to tone it down with the extra olive oil.)
Pour dressing and bacon over asparagus, lightly toss, and serve.
If you're planning to have leftovers, reserve some of the cooked bacon to top just before serving, otherwise, it loses it's crispness.
Yields: 6-8 servings
Vinaigrette adapted from The New Way to Cook Light
That looks (and sounds!) a lot fancier than it really is. It’s Eggs Benedict, dressed up with leftovers from the previous night’s Burgers Oscar.
“Oscar style” in this house involves asparagus, Bearnaise, and crab – king crab when I don’t have to sell a kidney to afford it. I don’t know what it is about Bearnaise sauce that makes you want to lick the entire pot clean but – wait, I do. It’s the whole stick of butter in the recipe.
We serve a few things Oscar style around here: steaks, crostini, and burgers. So adding it to Jason’s “desert island food” Eggs Benedict wasn’t so much a stretch. And it was equally unsurprising that it was plate-licking delicious.
If you’ve been around here a while, you know that we love our fancy burgers. And if you’ve been around here a really long time, you know that we love our fancy steaks.
Our favorite “fancy dinner” is Filet Oscar: beef tenderloin topped with crab, asparagus tips, and Bearnaise sauce.
“Amazing” sells it short. “Pricey” keeps it off the menu.
So rather than blow the grocery budget on filets and King Crab legs, we took a more economical approach. With a single on-sale snow crab cluster, a pound of ground beef, and a pound of asparagus, last week’s Fancy Burger Night got a surf & turf makeover with Burgers Oscar.
It’s a “plain” burger topped with juicy crab, grilled asparagus, and a generous scoop of Bearnaise sauce. “Over the top” sells it short. And the price won’t keep it off the menu.
Burgers, Oscar Style
Burger night gets a surf & turf make-over with Oscar-style burgers.
For the Bearnaise sauce:
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup shallot or white onion, finely chopped
3 eggs yolks
1 stick butter, cut into 8 pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
For the burger:
1 lb lean ground beef
1 lb asparagus
Meat from 1 snow crab cluster
3 burger buns
Make the bearnaise sauce while heating the grill to medium high.
Boil wine, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set into a medium bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids.
Whisk the yolks into the vinegar mixture, and then set bowl over a double boiler and cook until hot, whisking constantly until yolks have thickened slightly.
Whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, adding each piece before previous one has melted completely.
Remove from heat and whisk in lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Set aside to cool so it thickens slightly, whisking occasionally.
To make the burgers, salt, pepper, and add a few dashes of Worcestershire to the meat and form 3 burgers.
Trim woody ends from the bunch of asparagus and toss with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Transfer asparagus and burgers to the grill, cooking burgers 4-5 minutes on each side and the asparagus for ~10 minutes, rotating halfway through.
To assemble the burgers, top each bottom bun with a burger, trimmed tips of the asparagus (eat the rest on the side), 1/3 of the crab, and a generous scoop of Bearnaise.