Spring asparagus is even better with bacon

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune

The asparagus must be hitting snooze. Each morning, before I walk Milo the dog, we drop by their bed. Each morning the covers remain rumpled. Perhaps we catch the faint snuffle of pale green stalks, snoring.

It’s a cold, late spring, I reason. Who doesn’t like sleeping in?

One morning, mid-rumple, stands a single tall, sharp spear. That’s the thing about asparagus; they shoot up fully formed.

Dropping the leash, I paw at the bed, turning to the left, the right and back again. I uncover nothing — not even that single tall, sharp spear. How could it appear, then disappear? Is asparagus retractable?

Before I can pose this question to Milo, I have my answer.

Next project: Plant a fence.

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 20 minutes

Makes: 16 asparagus bouquets

1 pound asparagus

Canola oil

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Kosher salt

8 strips bacon, halved the long way

Maple syrup

Prep: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel: Using a vegetable peeler and patience, peel the lower two-thirds of each asparagus spear. Snap off the woody bottoms. Toss asparagus with the tiniest drizzle of oil, the lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.

Wrap: Working on the baking sheet, nestle together sets of two or three spears. Wrap each asparagus bouquet in bacon. There are endless design possibilities. My favorite is the Parisian knot, known to those who favor scarves:

Gently fold one long strip of bacon in half, end-to-end. (Note you’ve now got a loop and two free ends.) Wrap this double strip around the asparagus packet, and tuck the free ends through the loop.

Bake: Slide the sheet into the hot oven, and let sizzle, 10 minutes. Brush bacon with maple syrup. Continue to cook until bacon is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes more. Drain on paper towels. Serve.