I read today in two different places that some folks are getting tired of cooking and eating asparagus. I gasped audibly, both times. The season is so short, and asparagus is so good. I panicked a little last weekend; I was away from my normal asparagus source and didn’t want to pay what I thought was an exorbitant amount charged by the two farms selling it at the West Seattle farmers’ market, so I went without. A whole week *in season* without asparagus! Luckily, I was able to buy a little bit at PCC, and this is what I made with it.
The dish is somewhere between a hash and a German potato salad, sufficiently salad-like for me to label it as one. I suppose you could also call it a saute if you’d like. It is wonderful, if I do say so myself. I almost felt guilty eating a whole bowl, but I sure did, and I’m getting hungry enough just writing about it to think I might do so again. The potatoes are roasted before joining the party, so you get the highly-desirable combination of crispy edges and soft middles; the asparagus is left almost raw, providing crunch and green, fresh flavor; and the whole thing is accented with bacon. Perhaps the best part is the touch of cider vinegar added at the end, which was inspired by German potato salad; when the vinegar hits those hot potatoes, you get that sharp county fair or gastropub or fish & chips smell of fries with vinegar, which is my favorite, the only way I truly enjoy eating fries. (If you have malt vinegar at home, that might be really good in this recipe.) That smell is reason enough to make this dish, but the flavor is a super double bonus prize. So, if you can muster the strength to enjoy one more asparagus meal this spring, consider trying this one.
Roasted Potato Salad with Asparagus & Bacon
(serves 2-3 as an entree, 4-6 as a side)
- 2 T. olive or canola oil
- 4 medium potatoes, red or white or a mix, cut into 1″ cubes (about 3 c.)
- 3-4 strips of bacon
- 1 large shallot or half a red onion, diced
- 1 tsp. dried thyme, or 2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1/2 c. chicken or veggie stock
- 1/2 lb. asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into 1″ lengths
- 2 T. cider vinegar
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and season lightly with salt & pepper; place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet or in a baking pan large enough to allow some room between the potatoes. Roast for 35 mins., flipping/stirring them once after 20 mins. Begin cooking the bacon at this time.
In a skillet over medium to medium-high heat, cook the bacon, turning occasionally, until it has browned and the fat is mostly rendered. Remove the bacon from the pan to a cooling rack or the like to allow the extra fat to drip off; pour all but 2 T. of the bacon fat out of your pan. Add the shallots to the pan with the warm bacon drippings and cook until they soften, about 5 mins. Sprinkle with thyme and pour in the stock, using a wooden spoon to scrape the good browned bits off the bottom of the pan; add the asparagus pieces. Cover and cook for about 3 mins., longer if you prefer the asparagus less-crunchy. Chop the reserved bacon into small (but not pulverized) pieces; when the asparagus is cooked to your liking, add the bacon, roasted potatoes and vinegar to the pan. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper; serve warm.