Bacon-wrapped Asparagus

Time saver: wrapping things in bacon is kind of cliché, but luckily that doesn’t stop it from making things delicious.

This is a great one for summer, and is pretty quick and easy to prepare. I cooked mine in the oven tonight, but you can also do them on a grill, in a frying pan, or of course outside on the barbeque. If you’re doing them on the barbeque or in a frying pan, you may want to use tooth-picks or skewers to hold it all together.

I used dry-cured manuka smoked bacon from the Grey Lynn Butchers, and it was truly delicious. John Campbell has been known to shop here (I’m not sure if that’s an endorsement or not – you might want to pick your times to avoid bumping into him).

You can serve these with a meal, or just enjoy them on their own. For a variation you could also try wrapping individual asparagus spears with prosciutto (if you’ve come into money or something).

Bacon-wrapped Asparagus – makes 6-7 pairs

  • 250g fresh asparagus (should be around 12-14 spears)
  • 200g streaky middle bacon (you need one strip per 2 asparagus spears)
  • olive oil
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (I used “fan-grill”, which heats the top and side elements, while running the fan).
  2. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus spears, then place asparagus on a plate.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil over the asparagus, then turn them to get them evenly coated. Season with a little freshly cracked black pepper (and salt if you want it – though the bacon may be salty enough).
  4. Divide the asparagus into even-lengthed pairs, then wrap a strip of streaky bacon around the middle of each pair. Depending on your bacon you should be able to cover the middle half of each asparagus spear.
  5. Place the asparagus on a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper on it, arranging them so the loose ends of bacon are held under the asparagus. (Alternatively, you can thread a couple of tooth-picks or skewers through to hold the bacon in place.)
  6. Place the baking tray in the oven, and cook for around 10 minutes. Remove when the bacon is cooked and the asparagus is still al dente.

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

Time saver: if you’re going to eat tomatoes, eat them like this…

Balsamic Roasted TomatoesThese tomatoes have an intense flavour and are great as part of an antipasto platter or in a salad. Mum taught me how to make these. I’m not sure if she got them off a recipe or made it up herself, but I’ve come up with the measurements below and they seem to work.

Note that you can use all sorts of different tomatoes when making these, you may need to adjust the cooking time down if using really small tomatoes, but the basic principle will be the same.

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

  • 500g fresh ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium-large ones) or 300g smaller tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves finely chopped/1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • several sprigs of fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme)
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 200°C.
  2. Cut tomatoes into segments. If large, cut into sixths or eighths, if smaller, cut into halves or quarters.
  3. Arrange tomatoes skin down (cut sides up) in a small roasting pan (optionally lined with baking paper).
  4. Distribute the garlic evenly among the tomatoes, dropping a little bit onto each one with a teaspoon. Be sure to get some on every piece of tomato.
  5. Season with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
  6. Lay sprigs of thyme across the tops of the tomatoes, again, ensure that all tomatoes come into contact with the thyme. Alternatively, if using dried thyme, sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes.
  7. Gently drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes, then do the same with the balsamic vinegar.
  8. Place tomatoes in the oven, and cook for 60 minutes. Check at 10 minute intervals after cooking for 40 minutes. When ready the tomatoes will have reduced in size, and be starting to brown around the edges. (If you keep cooking past this point they’ll get smaller and crispier – they’re still surprisingly tasty even when well-charred…)
  9. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool, then remove the sprigs of thyme from the top, transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish and serve.

Balsamic Tomatoes Ready For Oven