Asparagus Wrapped in Pancetta With Citronette

Serves 6.

Note: Pancetta substitutes for the traditional prosciutto in this classic room-temperature antipasto, which is transformed on the grill. From “Italian Grill,” by Mario Batali.

• 2 lb. large asparagus (12 to 18 stalks per pound)

• 4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta

• Grated zest and juice of 1 orange

• 2 tsp. Dijon mustard

• 1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 1/2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme

• Coarse sea salt

Directions

To prepare the asparagus: Snap the tough bottom stalks off the asparagus. Unroll the slices of pancetta and lay them out on a work surface. Lay an asparagus spear on a slight diagonal across the bottom of one slice and roll it up, covering as much of the stalk as possible but leaving the tip visible. Place on a tray or small baking sheet and repeat with the remaining asparagus (if you are using jumbo asparagus, you may have a few slices of pancetta left over for another dish).

Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour (this rest will help the pancetta adhere to the asparagus).

Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.

To make the citronette: In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, juice and mustard. Continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until emulsified and smooth. Season the citronette with salt and pepper, and set aside.

To finish the asparagus: Place the asparagus on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until it is just tender and the pancetta is crisped, about 4 to 6 minutes. If the pancetta browns too much before the asparagus is cooked, move the spears to a cooler part of the grill.

Whisk the cintronette again, and pour half of it onto a serving platter. Sprinkle with half of the chopped thyme and pile the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the remaining thyme. Serve with a small bowl of coarse sea salt for dipping.

 

Tortellini Salad With Asparagus and Fresh Basil Dressing

Serves 8 to 10.

Note: This pasta salad particularly suits a picnic. From “The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook,” by America’s Test Kitchen.

• 1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces

• Salt and pepper

• 1 lb. dried cheese tortellini

• 12 oz. cherry

tomatoes, halved

• 3 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 shallot, minced

• 1 garlic clove, minced

• 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1/2 c. chopped fresh basil

• 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 c.)

• 1/4 c pine nuts, toasted

Directions

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Fill large bowl with ice water. Add asparagus and 1 tablespoon salt to boiling water and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to ice water and let cool, about 2 minutes; drain and pat dry.

Return pot of water to boil. Add tortellini and cook, stirring often, until tender. Drain tortellini, rinse with cold water and drain again, leaving tortellini slightly wet. Toss tortellini and tomatoes together in large bowl.

Whisk lemon juice, shallot, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in oil. Stir dressing into tortellini mixture, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. (Salad and asparagus can be refrigerated separately for up to 1 day; refresh salad with warm water and additional oil as needed.) Stir in asparagus, basil, Parmesan and pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.