Asparagus + Bacon = Super Supper Side Dish

For me, the best things about spring are the veggies! Asparagus, peas, broccoli, little bitty carrots and onions from row thinning, lettuces, spinach…all kinds of tasty produce that’s fresh and ready to eat with little or no intervention on my part. A quick wash, then a quick steam for some and the vegetables are on the table right away.

Then, though, there’s the leftovers. What to do? There’s only so much vegetable soup a body can eat, and although most steamed spring vegetables are good cold and dressed in a salad (with the leftover chicken or turkey, but that’s another story), what other options are out there?

Asparagus and eggs

In our house, we’ve been known to dress up the leftover vegetables with leftover bacon and drippings. It’s not hard to go wrong with a few savory, crunchy crumbles, and who doesn’t have a giant coffee mug of bacon drippings handy? Even if you don’t have a slice or two of leftover bacon, the bacon drippings alone will work just fine with the vegetables.

Mike and I often use up our leftover asparagus by warming it up in a quick saute of bacon drippings. I just drop a couple of tablespoons of the bacon drippings into my favorite frying pan (I’m in love with this one!) over medium to medium high heat until melted and hot. Then drop the veggie in and saute until hot.

Really in a pinch for dinner? When your asparagus is nearly ready, crack in a couple of eggs, and stir, scrambling through the asparagus. Tasty, quick, and easy. (I’ve just cracked the eggs in and let them cook sunny side up too.)

It’s best to get your asparagus out to warm to room temperature while you’re heating the drippings. You want the asparagus to sizzle when you drop it in the pan, so it will reheat quickly, but won’t overcook. That’s easier to do when the asparagus is close to room temperature.

Saute quickly, turning the asparagus so it begins to pick up a nice caramelization. The hotter your bacon drippings are when you put in the asparagus, the faster this will happen. Depending on the amount of asparagus you need to re-heat, you may have to do a couple of batches, and you may need to a little more bacon-y magic to the pan. Keep a close eye, because the vegetable will reheat in a hurry.

Add any of these to your bacon-asparagus mix!

We’ve added onion tops from thinned onions to our pan, cooked them down a bit in the drippings, and then tossed in the asparagus, and that’s really tasty too. The raw onion tops can take longer to cook unless you cut them in 1/2-inch to 1-inch lengths, so keep that in mind. You could also use scallion trimmings, fresh chives garlic shoots or ramps, if you’re lucky enough to have them.

We’ve prepared fresh peas and mushrooms, fresh broccoli, reheated leftovers of peas, mushrooms and broccoli together too, all in drippings, and everything turned out well. Any sturdy veggie seems to take to bacon–try with this fresh or leftover califlower! Sure, you can’t eat it every day, but a little added here and there makes a nice change.

TIPS:

To reduce the saturated fat, use only a teaspoon of bacon fat, and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Warm and saute asparagus.

Add a big city touch: topped warmed asparagus with roughly cracked black pepper

Add a little cumin when asparagus is nearly warmed through. It’s a delightful and unexpected flavor that compliments the brightness of the the asparagus.