Asparagus with Warm Tarragon-Pecan Vinaigrette

Adapted from Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Why not give a delicious welcome to the spring season? Here's how.

NOTE: This dish tastes best within an hour of being made.

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus (the thinner, the better)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced pecans
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespsoons minced fresh tarragon (or 2 teaspoons dried)
Black pepper to taste
  1. Break off and discard the tough bottom ends of the asparagus, then slice the stalks on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
  2. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small bowl and mix until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add pecans, and sauté over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until they are fragrant and lightly toasted.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the asparagus, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Stir-fry for about 3 to 5 minutes, or until the asparagus is just barely tender. (Thicker asparagus will take longer.)
  5. Add the vinegar mixture to the asparagus, stirring well. Cook over high heat for only about 30 seconds longer, then remove from heat.
  6. Stir in the tarragon, the remaining salt, and black pepper to taste. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.
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