When I first had children, I heard someone joke, "I used to cook but now I just fix dinner!" In my case, the two have always been interchangeable - from the beginning my cooking was always designed to get dinner on the table, usually in a quick-and-easy-but-still-tasty-as-possible way. I didn't cook until I stayed home with our babies, and I was so pressed for time that a certain simplicity was a necessity. In those busy years, my method was to make no more than one actual recipe for any given dinner. If the main course was from a recipe, the veggies would be simply steamed, but if we had leftover main dish I might branch out to a side dish recipe.
In recent years, I've had a bit more time to cook, but I still feel virtuously organized if I use a recipe to make a vegetable side dish. Some of my favorite vegetable recipes are from Thomas Keller's book, Ad Hoc at Home, which he describes a book of home cooking. While the recipes are often a bit more complicated (with sub-parts that require a different recipe elsewhere in the book) than most cooking that goes on in my home, I have loved trying the recipes, especially the vegetables. Keller has several asparagus preparations, and I began with his Asparagus with Tomato Bacon Stew.
- You can find the recipe here.
- For this recipe I went with the maximum smokiness of Benton bacon, which I nearly always use when bacon is the accent in a dish. I can buy the bacon locally, but I have also ordered it online.
- If you keep pre-cooked bacon lardons in your freezer, and also retain your bacon fat, this recipe goes fairly quickly.
I loved this way of cooking asparagus. The smoky, complex tomato sauce contrasted with the freshness of the asparagus.