Crunchy and a little sweet, this hearty Asparagus Salad Recipe gives you the one bowl wonder you'll crave at the end of any long day. It's chock full of colorful veggies, almonds, dried cranberries, and just enough bacon to make your heart sing.
In a small bowl with a whisk, or in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper. Stir or shake to combine. Allow the flavors to blend at room temperature while preparing the salad.
To fry the bacon:
To a cold skillet, add bacon slices in a single layer (touching is okay but you don't want them overlapping too much). Turn heat to medium and cook bacon until brown on one side and curling, about 5 minutes (7 minutes for thick-cut bacon).
Flip bacon and continue to cook until the second side is browned, about 3 to 5 minutes longer depending on your desired crispness. Drain on paper towels and chop or crumble when cool enough to handle.
To blanch the asparagus:
While the bacon is cooking, fill a large bowl with water and ice. In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring 1 inch water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil. Add asparagus, cover, and boil until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Immediately remove from boiling water and plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking. When completely cool, drain well and pat try. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
To assemble the salad:
In a large bowl, combine asparagus, red onion, red pepper, and cranberries. Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat. Cover and chill until serving time. Just before serving, stir in almonds and bacon.
1/4 cup store-bought cooked bacon may be substituted for the 4 slices raw bacon. Do not substitute bacon bits (the crunchy salad topping) which are often made of soy.