Summertime is synonymous with fresh vegetables and this recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Fried Pancetta and Slivered Almonds is a perfect side dish to any protein you choose. All you need is three main ingredients, a grill, a frying pan and about 15 minutes out of your busy day and you will have made a delicious, crunchy summertime side-dish.
Sometimes asparagus can be pretty boring, but with this recipe we step-it-up a notch. Salty and slightly crispy Pancetta brings the flavor while toasted almond slivers bring the crunch. Of course the star of the show is the grilled asparagus. It is so simple to make it is almost ridiculous.
What you need to make Grilled Asparagus with Fried Pancetta and Slivered Almonds
- Asparagus: Get a nice fresh bunch from the produce section of your grocery store. Make sure the stalks are not old and shriveled up. Don’t get pieces that are too small, they won’t do well on the grill.
- Pancetta: Most deli’s have prepackaged chopped Pancetta. I bought the package with (2) 4 ounce sections. I used one and saved the other for later.
- Slivered Almonds: I always keep bags of nuts in my pantry so it wasn’t hard for me to add them to the recipe. 1/4 cup is all you need tossed into the frying pan and briefly cooked so they turn light brown.
Frying the Pancetta and Toasting the Almonds
Two of the three ingredients for this recipe can be made ahead of time before the grilling of the Asparagus begins. In a small frying pan fry over medium heat 4 ounces of diced Pancetta. If you are vegetarian or Vegan you can omit this ingredient. Stir constantly so the Pancetta doesn’t burn. As soon as it turns crispy remove to a paper towel to drain the excess fat.
In the same frying pan, toss in 1/4 cup of slivered almonds and again, stirring constantly, fry the Almonds until browned. CAUTION: Any time you fry nuts or toast them you have to keep an eye on them because they can burn very quickly. As soon as the nuts start to turn brown, remove them from the frying pan and pour them into a small bowl. Add the Pancetta and set the bowl aside.
How to Grill Asparagus
Before you grill the Asparagus you want to prep it for cooking, which is extremely easy to do. Rinse the Asparagus spears then either snap the woody stem off or cut it off. I prefer to snap the stem off because this technique naturally separates the woody part of the stem from the naturally tender part. To do this just hold the spear in your hand and literally snap it. The spear will naturally split in two-discard the woody stem and set the tender part aside to use for cooking.
As most of you know, when I say grilled I can mean one of two things: Either grilled on my Propane Grill or using the same grill but with my flat-top griddle insert placed on top of the grates. For this recipe I am using the flat top because I want the Asparagus as evenly cooked as possible. If you don’t have the flat-top insert for your grill you can purchase and use the vegetable grill basket offered in the grill section of most hardware stores.
Grilling asparagus is extremely easy to do. You prep the asparagus, rinse it, brush with olive oil and drop it on your grill or griddle. It doesn’t get more simple than that. I like to add a sprinkle of Himalayan Salt when the grilling begins because then I can keep the lid closed while the Asparagus cooks.
After 3-4 minutes of cooking turn the Aspargus over. You want the tips to be turning brown, giving the asparagus a slightly charred (browned) appearance but not burned. One time I cooked it too long and instead of holding it’s texture the seared asparagus became a limp mess, so make sure you don’t overcook it. You can even pull a spear off, and when it cools after a minute or two, taste if to see how crispy it still is.
When the Asparagus is done plate it then sprinkle the Almonds and Pancetta over the top. You can add a dab of butter or Ghee if you would like to or serve it as is. It is crispy, salty and has a wonderful smoky flavor. Enjoy!
Grilled Asparagus with Fried Pancetta and Slivered Almonds
- 1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus
- 4 Ounces Diced Pancetta
- ¼ Cup Slivered Almonds
- Rinse the asparagus and either snap off the woody stems or cut them off. If you are using the snapping off technique, the asparagus will separate where the tender stem meets the woody part of the stem. Dab the water off the spears with a paper towel and set aside.
- Turn your grill on and place your vegetable basket or flat top griddle insert onto the grates. Heat to 350 degrees.
- While the grill is heating up place the Pancetta in a frying pan over medium heat and cook. Stir frequently so as not to let the Pancetta get overcooked. As soon as the Pancetta turns brown and crispy remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel reserving the Pancetta grease that released during cooking.
- Using the same pan you fried the Pancetta in, place back on the stove and toss in the Slivered Almonds. Stir constantly as any type of nut will cook quickly when being heated up. You do not want to burn the Almonds.
- As soon as the Almonds start to turn brown immediately remove them from the heat and scrape them into a bowl. Add in the Fried Pancetta and set aside. **DO NOT LEAVE THE ALMONDS IN THE FRYING PAN AS THEY WILL CONTINUE TO COOK.
- Place the asparagus on a plate and lightly brush the asparagus with olive oil. Once the grill hits 350 degrees, place the asparagus on the griddle, sprinkle with salt and pepper and shut the lid. Time for 3-4 minutes.
- When the tips are starting to turn brown, turn the spears over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Don't overcook the spears or you will end up with blackened asparagus. You can remove a spear and taste to see how done they are. I prefer a slightly crunchy spear to a well done one.
- Remove from the grill, place on a serving plate and mix in the fried Pancetta and Slivered Almonds. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!