Asparagus Roll-Ups


2 bunches of fresh asparagus
4 slices bacon, or 4 Tbsp. real bacon bits
6-8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. lemon zest
12 slices white sandwich bread
1/2 cup butter


Cut tips (3 inches) off of asparagus. Then cut 3 inch pieces of stems. (Discard the rest.) In steamer basket, LIGHTLY steam asparagus until just barely tender and still bright green. Do not overcook! Set aside, allow to cool without a lid on steamer. Fry bacon until crisp and crumble fine. Grate lemon peel very fine. Mix cream cheese with bacon and lemon zest and allow mixture to sit at room temperature. Cut the crusts off of the bread. Put a slice of bread between two sheets of waxed paper (or plastic wrap) and roll it with a rolling pin until about 1/4 inch thick. Do this with all the bread. Spread each slice of bread with about a tablespoon of the cream cheese mixture. Preheat oven to 450 (hot) degrees. At one end of bread slice, put two asparagus tips facing in opposite directions, with tips of asparagus protruding about 3/4 inch beyond opposite edges of the bread. (Use stems if/when you run out of tips.) Roll the asparagus up in the bread and secure each end of the roll-up with a toothpick (2 toothpicks per roll-up). When all are finished, brush the rolls all over with melted butter and arrange on a cookie sheet with toothpicks facing up. Put on center rack in oven and cook just until butter begins to brown a little bit, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to burn. Remove and quickly cut each roll in half, leaving in toothpick. Arrange on platter and serve warm. Serves 12 (2 appetizers per person).

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