January 3, 2012

Grilled Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette and Crisp Pancetta

asparagus 4
Happy New Year guys! I hope you had a great time celebrating it, hopefully with no major headaches or hangovers the next day. Personally, I spent it with my family drinking champagne out of a martini glass. Partaaay!
But I have to admit, it was fun see all the random, questionably legal fireworks going off in nearby neighborhoods and tease my little sister about taking it easy on that glass of Sprite she was drinking.
Even though we’re only three days into 2012, I’m sure that many of you are already well on your way to completing any number of New Year’s resolutions. In all honesty, even I have jumped on the resolutions train this time around, mapping out goals ranging from prepping for the GRE exam to not watching Korean dramas before doing my homework.
Something tells me that one of those goals will be more attainable than the other.

dijon mustard
orange zest
brown sugar
oil pour
vinaigrette stir
Whatever your resolution(s) may be, I’d like to contribute my own piece of advice—take baby steps. I think one of the main reasons why so many people are unable to follow through on their big, lifestyle-changing goals is due to biting off more than they can chew. Healthy eating, for instance. In January, cutting all carbohydrates, fats, and processed foods from your diet sounds like a grand idea. In March, as you begrudgingly eat celery sticks while your coworkers are munching buttered blueberry muffins, it starts wears thin. By May, you’re frolicking through the grocery store with a basket full of chips and cookies a mile high.
vinaigrette pour
So, rather than aiming for a complete overhaul of your entire diet and exercise lifestyle, I’d recommend picking one thing to change. For me, it’s no snacking after 11pm, because I get a serious case of late-night munchies. Once you’ve mastered that one, small lifestyle change, you can add in another step, like keeping a food journal or walking on the treadmill. That way, it’s not some jarring change, but rather a manageable series of attainable improvements.
asparagus 2
This recipe is one that I think falls well into that “baby steps” category of healthy eating. You’ve got tender, grilled asparagus for a delightful dose of vitamins and nutrients. However, you’ve also got a plentiful serving of plain ol’ yum with crisp pancetta sprinkled on top of all the beneficial stuff. The asparagus and pancetta both blend beautifully with a few spoonfuls of a subtle orange vinaigrette that helps to add another punch of flavor as well as lighten up the dish with a touch of citrus. All together, they make a delicious side dish that’s good for you without sacrificing even a pinch of yumminess.
Aside of “Eat more asparagus tossed in tasty dressings and topped with pancetta,” what resolutions have you come up with this year?
asparagus 3
Grilled Asparagus with Orange Vinaigrette and Crisp Pancetta
A La Kocinera Original Recipe
Printable Recipe

1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 orange, juice and zest
6 thin slices pancetta, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
pinch cayenne pepper

In a dry skillet, heat the pancetta over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until crisp and slightly browned. Set a paper towel on a plate and allow the pancetta to drain while you prepare the other ingredients.
In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon orange juice, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon orange zest (depending on how orange-y you want the vinaigrette), 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, dark brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Gradually whisk in 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil until the vinaigrette is well combined. Set aside, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, as well as 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Heat the grill or a grill pan to medium-high and arrange the asparagus on the grill to cook. Cook the asparagus for about 12-15 minutes, turning once halfway through, until the asparagus is tender, but still al dente.
To serve, toss the cooked asparagus with several spoonfuls of vinaigrette (you may not need the entire batch) and sprinkle with the crisp pancetta.
Serves 4 as a side dish.


  1. Wow, this looks just incredible!
    I love asparagus and this recipe is such a fabulous twist!
    Yeah, I am not the best person with making new years resolutions. But I do want to maintain healthy eating and exercise through the year. :)

  2. wonderful recipe - pictures too! i wish my husband actually liked asparagus.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! These asparagus are amazing and I’ve been inspired to feature them in my Friday Food Fetish roundup. If you have any objections, please let me know. Moar, moar, MOAR please :)

  4. I will eat more asparagus any day of the week, I swear. That can be my resolution. Funny how we can eat stuff like this and still be 'the healthy ones' even when it's twelve hundred times as delicious as the limp, mass-produced stuff, ahaha.

    I love the sequence of vinegarette photos, by the way, simple is beautiful. :D

  5. I started doing this 30 day habit thing where I force myself to commit to just one good habit per month and at the end of the year I (theoretically) have 12 good new habits. It's awesome. Now I floss, like, every day! (Hope it gross you out that I didn't use to, heh). Some didn't stick but hey, win some lose some right?

  6. i am also hooked to korean dramas.... and even indian film :) i just enjoy watching.... your dish looks good with grilled fish...looks like its crunchy and munchy...

    all the best in 2012!

  7. This sounds wonderful. I went a bit over the top with my resolutions list - trying to pare it back to something manageable - baby steps sounds good! But not as good as this asparagus :)

  8. @Kristen: Thank you! Those sound like good resolutions!

    @the actor's diet: Thanks!

    @JavelinWarrior: Thank you!

    @Indigo: Isn't that stuff yummy? I love when healthy food turns out so deliciously. :D

    @Sasa: Oooh, that's a good idea! Anyone who flosses every day totally has their act together in my book. :D

    @feiane: Korean dramas and Indian films--I know what you're talking about! :D Thank you!

    @hungryandfrozen: I think paring things back is a good thing with resolutions. I've already test driven and eliminated a few things from my list. :)

  9. Ditto on the whole baby step approach! I definitely bite off more than I can chew. This year one of my resolutions is to eat more vegetables and this recipe is fo sure going on the weeknight menu!!

    1. Eating more vegetables sounds like a very lovely resolution. :D

  10. I love asparagus and always looking for a new way to make it. Thanks for sharing.

  11. i made this tonight and it was just perfect!! any ideas for leftover vinaigrette?

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! As far as leftover vinaigrette goes, I think it would make a great salad dressing or even a fish or chicken marinade.


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