Saturday, April 9, 2011

Grilled Asparagus with Pancetta and Local Jersey Milk Feta

Asparagus may easily be one of the most elegant vegetables to arrive in early spring. I would go so far as to say it is one of the most elegant vegetables of all time. Tender, mild and distinctly seductive with its sweet, uniquely earthy flavor.
You don't have to do a thing to make fresh garden asparagus any better than it already is plucked straight from the garden. Yet, here is perhaps the next best method. Harvest young shoots, rinse, grill and sprinkle with local jersey milk feta and cubes of crispy pancetta. Serve with poached eggs straight from the coop or toss all components into a quiche. The creaminess from the eggs is a perfect accompaniment to the salty pancetta and feta, without overwhelming the vegetable's pure springtime pleasure.
This dinner may be simple, but absolutely unforgettable.

Grilled Asparagus with Pancetta and Local Jersey Milk Feta:
*1 bunch freshly harvested asparagus
*olive oil for grilling
*1/4 cup crumbled local sheep or cow milk feta
*1/4 pound thick slice pancetta, cubed
*black pepper

Rinse asparagus. Chop shoots in half.
Place a grill pan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Meanwhile, heat a separate pan over medium heat and add cubed pancetta, stirring occasionally until golden and crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Begin grilling asparagus while searing pancetta, turning once or twice until slightly tender.
Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with the feta, pancetta and freshly ground black pepper.

Asparagus facts:
One of the oldest known cookbooks from the third century, De re conquinaria, contains a recipe for asparagus. Its diuretic properties have been praised since early times for medicinal use. The list of minerals and vitamins found in asparagus is long including: vitamins A, B6 C, E and K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, niacin, folic acid, riboflavin, iron, potassium, phosphorus, selenium and copper.
Asparagus is notably high in dietary fiber as well as protein. Special to asparagus is a property known as chromium which has been shown to enhance insulin's ability to deliver glucose to the body's cells from the bloodstream.

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