As featured in Bay Area Bites, April 15, 2009.

The markets have been flooded with bundles of bright green, fresh and crisp asparagus for weeks now. Jumbo, pencil-thin, white…I’ve seen every iteration of these luscious spears overflowing from stands across the city.

If you haven’t been tempted yet to pick up a bunch of these springtime beauties, maybe this recipe will push you over the edge.

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

Grilled asparagus kissed with balsamic vinegar, served with a fried egg, crumbled bacon, and lemon aioli. A kind of deconstructed modern carbonara if you will.

It takes a bit of work with the different components, but it’s worth it! Perfect for a fancy brunch or served as a starter, this dish is full of smooth richness, mellow sweetness, a little tang, and crunch.

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

Yield: Serves 3-4


  • 1 pound asparagus, washed with ends of the stems trimmed
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bowl ice water
  • ½ pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Aïoli:
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Lemon Aïoli: Place the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, orange juice, salt, and grated cheese into a food processor and blend until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while the processor is running. Prepare a double boiler, making sure the bowl on top is not touching the simmering water beneath. Place the sauce in the bowl and whisk until the sauce becomes a thick, smooth consistency (about 5 minutes).
  2. Asparagus: Bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the asparagus to the boiling stock, uncovered, for approximately 2 minutes. Drain and immediately place the spears into ice water to stop cooking. Drain again and pat dry.
  3. Bacon: In a large skillet cook the bacon over high heat until crispy and brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon pieces to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour off most of the bacon grease, leaving just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, place the asparagus in the pan, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add balsamic vinegar and stir to coat the asparagus. Sear on each side for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Fried Egg: In a separate pan fry an egg sunny side up. When the white is mostly cooked, add a few tablespoons of water into the pan and cover for a minute or two. The result will be a yolk that is soft but not too raw. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Plate the asparagus with the egg, crumbled bacon, and garnish with sauce.


Tip: You will have a lot of aioli leftover. Save it in an airtight container – it makes a wonderful sandwich spread or chip/veggie dip.