Garden asparagus is one of the best foods of springtime, and the tender bright green spears are plentiful at stores and markets right now. We like to drizzle the asparagus stalks with bacon drippings before oven roasting, which brings out so much good flavor.
Add a topping of crumbled bacon, toasted bread crumbs and shredded Parmesan cheese, and you’ll be in asparagus heaven!
If Ina Garten, Martha Stewart and Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation got together to make asparagus, I like to think they’d land on something like this recipe.
It contains bread crumbs like Martha’s asparagus recipe.
It’s got Parmesan cheese like Ina’s recipe for Parmesan Roasted Asparagus.
And it’s got plenty of BACON, in honor of meat-loving Ron Swanson (played by Nick Offerman).
Why This Roasted Asparagus with Bacon and Cheese Recipe is Worth Making
- You’ll love how the crunchy topping contrasts with the earthy flavor of the asparagus.
- The preparation couldn’t be easier.
- Cooking asparagus in the oven is simple. No steamer baskets or draining hot water needed!
- Drizzling the spears with a little of the bacon fat before roasting makes it taste sooo good.
- You can prep the asparagus and make the topping ahead of time, so it’s a perfect recipe for a party when you want to have FUN!
Here’s what you’ll need to prepare this tasty recipe:
6 slices thick cut bacon – Thick sliced bacon will make thicker bacon bits that add so much flavor to the dish. If you only have regular-sliced bacon, no problem. Just use 8 strips instead of 6.
1.5 pounds fresh asparagus spears – See below for tips about how to choose fresh asparagus.
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese – Shredded Parmesan will hold its shape and give the maximum flavor in each bite. Feel free to substitute grated Parmesan if that’s what you have on hand.
1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs – These breadcrumbs are pre-seasoned with herbs and spices. If you only have plain breadcrumbs on hand, you can season 1/3 cup with 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper – Black pepper adds just a little spicy taste to the dish and compliments the earthy flavor of the asparagus.
How to Pick Out Asparagus
- Whether you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, here’s how to choose the best asparagus for this dish.
- Choose thinner stalks, which will cook up tender and sweet. Avoid super-thick stalks, which can sometimes be woody and fibrous.
- Look for stalks that are bright spring green and firm.
- Avoid limp, floppy asparagus spears, which is past its prime.
- If the stalks are wrinkled, choose another batch. This is a sign of age and indicates that the asparagus has begun to dry out.
- Look at the heads carefully. They should be dry and in tight buds. If they have started to bolt or fall off the stem, avoid that bunch.
- When possible, choose a bunch of asparagus where the stalks are about the same diameter. This will allow for more even cooking.
Step by Step Instructions
- Cook the bacon in a skillet, reserving the bacon grease.
- Drain and crumble the bacon. Alternately, you can cut the bacon in small pieces first – see directions for Homemade Bacon Bits below.
- Prepare the crumb topping.
- Clean and trim the asparagus.
- Arrange it on a pan, and drizzle with the bacon fat.
- Spoon the crumb topping over, and bake until the asparagus is tender and the topping is lightly browned and crispy.
- Serve and enjoy!
How to Make the Homemade Bacon Bits
Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut the bacon slices in thin strips, about 1/3 inch. Cut the long strips of bacon in 1/3 inch squares.Transfer the chopped bacon to a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is well browned and crispy.
Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon bits to paper towels to drain and cool.
Make the Bacon, Bread Crumb and Parmesan Cheese Topping
In a small bowl, combine the homemade bacon bits, the Italian bread crumbs and the shredded Parmesan cheese. Use a fork to combine well.
How to Trim Asparagus
We like to simply break off the tough bottom part of the asparagus with our hands. The break will usually naturally occur just where the asparagus tends to get tough and woody. You can also cut off the tough bottom stem with a sharp knife.
If the asparagus is thick, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel the tough ends down to the more tender middles before trimming.
After trimming, arrange the spears on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Cover with the crumb mixture. Pop in the oven and cook until the asparagus is tender and the crumb topping is lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Serve and bask in the compliments!
Here’s the printable recipe:
Oven Roasted Asparagus with Bacon Bits, Bread Crumbs and Parmesan Cheese
- Large baking sheet
- Large skillet
- parchment paper
- small bowl
- paper towels
- 6 slices thick cut bacon
- 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1.5 pounds fresh asparagus spears
- 1 lemon, cut in wedges for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 ℉ and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Line a plate with several layers of paper towels.
- Cut the bacon in thin 1/3-inch strips, and cut the strips crosswise to make 1/3 inch squares. Cook the bacon in a skillet, reserving the bacon grease. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon bits to the paper towel lined plate to drain. When cool, crumble finely.
- In a small bowl, combine the crumbled bacon, Italian bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Stir with a fork to combine and reserve.
- Arrange the trimmed asparagus spears in a single layer on the baking sheet
- Drizzle with bacon grease and roll the spears to coat. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.
- Sprinkle with the crumb topping.
- Roast until the asparagus is tender but still crisp and bright green and topping is starting to brown, about 12 minutes. This may take longer for thicker asparagus spears.
- Transfer the spears to a serving plate and sprinkle with the crumbs. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired.
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