Asparagus with pancetta, bleu cheese and nuts

I love asparagus, and the flavors of this recipe make magic. Perfect for holiday entertaining as a first course

Asparagus with Pancetta, bleu cheese and toasted pine nuts

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds asparagus-peeled and trimmed

½-teaspoon kosher salt

Fresh ground pepper

Approximately 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 ounces pancetta- chopped

½ cup pine nuts, toasted

½ cup Maytag bleu cheese

*drizzle of balsamic reduction if preferred

DIRECTIONS:

Prep fresh large asparagus spears. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay spears on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with olive oil, season lightly with kosher salt and ground pepper.

Roast in the oven, turning once after 5 minutes for approximately 10 minutes or until the asparagus is crisp but cooked. Remove from the oven and cover the cookie sheet with a clean dry dish towel.

In a medium pan, add pancetta and cook until brown and slightly crisp.  Sprinkle over asparagus, sprinkle bleu cheese over the pancetta and asparagus and top with pine nuts. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes until cheese begins to melt. Remove from the oven, place on serving plate and season with fresh ground pepper (do not add any more salt as the pancetta is quite salty). Serve immediately with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

As the Culinary Director for ABC 7, I whip up cooking segments on ABC 7 News at Noon, along with recipes, cooking tips, reviews and great food finds on MySuncoast Dining at www.mysuncoast.com