Asparagus & Wilted Arugula Salad with Pancetta & Almonds

asparagus1 lb. asparagus, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces thin-sliced pancetta (can substitute 8 slices of bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces)
½ C toasted shaved or slivered almonds
6 ounces arugula

Dressing:

1 T shallots, minced
¼ C dry sherry
2 T red wine or sherry vinegar
1 T Dijon mustard
¼ C extra-virgin olive oil

Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot and add the pancetta slices. (If the pancetta is very lean, add 1 T. olive oil to the pan.) After 1-2 minutes, turn the pancetta once and continue to cook another minute until the fat is lightly golden, then remove to a plate and set aside. Once all the pancetta is cooked, add the asparagus to the same pan and cook, stirring often, until the pieces are crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus to the plate with the pancetta. If there is no moisture left in the pan add 1 T. olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat for a minute, then add the sherry and boil to reduce the liquid by half. Whisk in the vinegar and Dijon mustard. Remove from the heat and add the olive oil a little at a time, whisking well to make a thick dressing.

Put the arugula in a serving bowl, add the toasted almonds, asparagus and crumble the pancetta over the salad. Add just enough dressing to slightly wilt the arugula, toss well and serve immediately. Serves 4-6.

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