Asparagus and Spring Are Here!!

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It is finally starting to feel like springtime and that means it is time to look for fresh asparagus! Asparagus has gone from being a mystery vegetable to being a very popular one. Now is the best time to buy fresh asparagus, if you cannot get it fresh and local, many groceries having at a very good price. Asparagus is full of nutrition. Low in calories (only 25 per serving!) and sodium, and has no fat or cholesterol. A serving of Asparagus provides 10 percent of the daily requirement of foliate, eight percent of dietary fiber and potassium, and 100 percent of vitamin C. Including Asparagus in everyday meals and snacks can help prevent cancer, heart disease, and hypertension. Asparagus has also proven to serve as a detoxifier, as an anti-aging vegetable, and to reduce inflammation.

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

(I have shared a version of this before, and it remains one of my favorites)

Ingredients

  • 12 oz. orzo
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 Tbsp. Italian Dressing (Or 4 Tbsp. Olive oil and a sprinkle of the dry Italian dressing)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Directions

  1. Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt in each.
  2. To one pot, add asparagus and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.
  3. Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.
  4. To the second pot, add the orzo. Cook per package instructions. When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.
  6. Mix Italian dressing, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir into orzo and vegetables. Stir in parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 cup diced peeled potato
  • 2 tsp. prepared horseradish, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup whole-wheat croutons
  • Sliced chives for garnish

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add broth, asparagus, potato, horseradish, and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)
  2. Serve the soup topped with the croutons and chives.

Balsamic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ half lbs. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp. Basil, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, toss the asparagus and tomatoes in the oil, salt and pepper.
  2. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer, sprinkle on the parmesan and roast in a preheated 400° F oven until caramelize, about 15-20 minutes, mixing half way through.
  3. Meanwhile, simmer the balsamic vinegar until thicken, about 10 minutes.
  4. Garnished with the fresh basil. Serve the asparagus and tomatoes warm drizzled with the balsamic vinegar.

Ginger Asparagus Stir Fry

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. skinless boneless chicken tenders, cut into bit-sized pieces
  • 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • Salt and Pepper

For the Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger root
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

Directions

  1. Whisk together all ingredients for sauce, set aside.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they have released their water and the pan is dry, 5-10 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan.
  3. Return pan to heat and add one tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from pan.
  4. Wipe out pan if needed. Return pan to heat and add the other tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened and starting to turn golden.
  5. Add the mushrooms and the chicken back to the pan, cook for about 3 minutes, until starting to brown.
  6. Add the asparagus and cook for 1-2 minutes, until turning bright green.
  7. Add the sauce and stir until everything is coated and sauce has thickened, about 1 minute.
  8. Serve over rice.

Easy Asparagus Casserole

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 lbs. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 5 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 boiled eggs, sliced

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Microwave 1 tablespoon butter in a microwaveable bowl on High until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in panko; set aside.
  2. Set a large bowl filled with ice water near the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain; plunge the asparagus into the ice water. Let stand for 5 minutes; drain. Arrange the asparagus in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  3. Return the pot to the stove; heat over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, stirring to coat. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute (do not brown the garlic). Add flour; cook, stirring often, for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in milk; bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream cheese, mozzarella and salt.
  4. Top with the sliced boiled eggs.
  5. Pour the cheese mixture over the asparagus in the baking dish, stirring to coat. Sprinkle evenly with the panko mixture. Bake until the asparagus is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.