With all the asparagus and strawberry sagre that occur around this time of year, this combo really shouldn’t come as a surprise. But teaming them up together would never have crossed my mind had it not been for a chef’s demo on a local tv program. This dish is simple to make and is great as an opening course.
1. Trim ends of 1 pound of asparagus spears and quickly blanch in boiling water just until they turn a bright green. Drain and allow to cool.
2. Wrap with pancetta (or bacon) and place in a roasting pan. Season with sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Roast at 400°F until pancetta is cooked; about 15-20 minutes.
3. While the asparagus is in the oven, mix 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small pan and heat until it turns syrupy. Add a half pound of chopped strawberries and a squeeze of lemon juice, and continue to simmer until it turns into a chunky sauce.
4. Arrange asparagus on a platter and spoon sauce over the spears. Serves 2.
Asparagus and strawberry festivals in Italy
From the end of April to the end of May, asparagus (asparagi) and strawberries (fragole) are paired together in many food festivals or sagre throughout Italy. Northern Italy hosts several of them.