Try this sparkly dish as an appetizer all on its own, so it can get the full attention it deserves.
Asparagus with Warm Tarragon-Pecan Vinaigrette
- 1½ pounds fresh asparagus (medium-thick)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar or light-colored honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup minced pecans
- 2 teaspoons minced or crushed garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Break off and discard the tough bottom ends of the asparagus, then slice the stalks on the diagonal into 1½-inch pieces. Set aside.
- Combine the vinegar and sugar or honey in a small bowl and mix until uniform. (You might need to warm the honey for about 10 seconds in a microwave if it’s too stiff.) Set aside.
- Place a large, deep skillet over medium heat. After about a minute, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pecans, turn the heat down, and sauté over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Transfer the nuts to another dish and set aside.
- Return the pan to the stove, and increase the heat to medium-high. Wait about a minute, then add another tablespoon olive oil and swirl again to coat the pan. Toss in the asparagus, and stir-fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is just barely tender. (Thicker asparagus will take longer.) Sprinkle in the garlic and salt during the last minute or so of cooking.
- Turn up the heat to high, and pour in the vinegar mixture, stirring as you go. Stir-fry over high heat for only about 30 seconds, then remove from heat.
- Stir in the tarragon, and add black pepper to taste. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, sprinkled with the reserved pecans.
Nutrition facts:Per 1/6 of recipe 189 calories 3 grams of protein 7 grams of carbohydrates 3 grams of fiber 200 milligrams of sodium 18 grams of fat ( 2 grams of saturated fat 11 grams of monounsaturated fat 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat )
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