Asparagus actually has two parts-a thick root and tender stalks. The root is used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic and to strengthen the female reproductive system. The asparagus root is also believed to help develop peace of mind, a loving nature, a good memory, and a calm spirit. And there's some science behind these traditional uses. Asparagus root contains compounds that actually affect hormone production and possibly influence emotions.
Asparagus, like most fruits and veggies, has a very favorable ratio of potassium to sodium. It's also high in vitamin K, essential for both healthy clotting and strong bones. And it contains rutin, which helps protect blood vessels, and the anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting flavonoid quercetin. Finally, a cup of cooked asparagus gives you a decent 3.6 grams of fiber, all for a ridiculously low number of calories.
And call me crazy, but I consider bacon-"clean" bacon, that is, from pasture-raised pork-
to be the perfect combination of fat and protein. Not to mention taste!
I think of this recipe as a kind of upgraded, deconstructed BLT, with no bread or mayo, but all of the roasty goodness!
Notes... From Chef Jeannette
Though you can find asparagus at other times of the year, March, April, and May are peak season in the U.S., and it never tastes better than it does right now. Look for stalks that are deep green, firm, and smooth. The tips should also be green and may have a tinge of purple. They should be dry and compact like a flower bud. The fat stalks are female and the thin are male. Both are tender and tasty if they're super-fresh, but note that the thin stalks will take less time to roast.
Roasted B-A-T (Bacon, Asparagus, & Tomato) with Dijon Balsamic
To trim asparagus, hold one end of a stalk in each of your hands and gently bend it until it snaps, discarding the woody end. It will naturally break at the juncture where it turns fibrous.
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed (about 1 lb.)
Salt, to taste
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
6 strips bacon (preferably organic or nitrate-free)
1 large, ripe tomato (such as heirloom beefsteak), chopped and seasoned lightly with salt
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Select 2 baking sheets that will fit in the oven on one rack, line larger one with foil, and set aside.
- In large bowl, combine asparagus and shallots. Drizzle 2 Tbs. olive oil over vegetables, season lightly with salt, and toss gently to coat.
- Transfer vegetables to larger, foil-lined baking sheet, and arrange in single layer. Arrange the bacon on smaller, unlined baking sheet in single layer. Roast vegetables and bacon on the same rack, about 15 minutes or to your desired level of crispness. The bacon may need a few minutes longer than the asparagus.
- While veggies and bacon are roasting, combine the remaining Tbs. olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, and pepper in small dish, and whisk to lightly emulsify. Set aside.
- Once crisp, remove bacon from oven and drain on paper towels. Transfer roasted asparagus to serving dish, top with tomatoes, and drizzle evenly with the balsamic emulsion. Crumble bacon over tomatoes, and serve immediately.
per serving: 300 cal; 8g pro; 27g total fat (7g sat fat); 8g carb; 30mg chol; 300mg sod; 3g fiber; 4g sugars