What’s Almost in Season? Asparagus!

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We are starting to get more and more glimpses of springtime, and as the days grow warmer and longer it is time to start looking for fresh asparagus!! Asparagus has moved from only being enjoyed slimy from a can to being a super popular number one choice for taste, variety and nutrition!

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.

This is one of my all-time favorites for fresh asparagus, hope you will also enjoy!

Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus and Tomatoes

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 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon Italian dressing mix or seasoning
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Bring 2 large pots of water to boil. Add a big pinch of salt in each.

To one pot, add asparagus and blanch, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.

Place blanched asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and keep them green.

To the second pot, add the orzo. Cook per package instructions. When tender, drain and place in a large bowl.

Add blanched asparagus and tomato halves.

Mix olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, Italian dressing mix, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Stir into orzo and vegetables. Stir in parsley and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Asparagus and Corn Salad

(Sine it will not be too long before fresh corn will be available, this will be a great recipe for late spring and early summer, or a good way to use those bags of fresh shucked corn from last season in your freezer)

6 ears yellow corn, shucked

2 bunches asparagus, trimmed

1 small red onion, diced small

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

 

For the Dressing;

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Fill a large stock pot with water, salt and bring it to a boil. Place shucked corn in boiling water and blanch the corn for 3 minutes until bright yellow. Then toss the corn into an ice bath. In the same water used for blanching the corn, blanch the asparagus for 1 minute and toss into the ice bath. For the corn, once cooled, remove the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife and cut the asparagus into 1-inch angled sections. Place both the corn and then asparagus into a medium size bowl.

In another medium size bowl, mix together sugar, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Drizzle over corn and asparagus. Mix together well and chill or serve at room temperature.

Stir-Fry Chicken and Asparagus

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 breasts)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (2-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin matchsticks

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch plus 1 teaspoon

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1 tablespoon dry sherry

3/4 cup chicken broth, low-sodium canned, or homemade or water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 bunches medium asparagus (about 2 pounds), woody stems trimmed, sliced into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced

Serving suggestion: Brown or white rice

Freeze the chicken breasts for 20 to 30 minutes and then thinly slice the chicken against the grain into strips. Toss the strips with about half the garlic and ginger, the soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon of the cornstarch, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the sherry in a bowl. Marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Mix the remaining cornstarch with the broth.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the asparagus, scallions, remaining garlic, ginger, 1/4 cup of water, and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir-fry until the asparagus is bright green but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Heat the same skillet until very hot, then add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the chicken and stir-fry until it loses its raw color and gets a little brown, about 3 minutes. Return the asparagus to the pan and toss to heat through. Stir in the reserved cornstarch mixture and bring to a full boil to thicken. Mound the stir-fry on a serving platter or divide among 4 plates; serve with rice.

Balsamic Tomato Asparagus

1 bunch of asparagus, washed and trimmed

1 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Salt & pepper to taste

Cook asparagus in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain.

Spray a large skillet with an olive oil mister and set over medium-high heat.

Add tomatoes and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; cook 3 minutes. Stir in salt.

Arrange asparagus on a platter; top with tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and pepper.

Roasted Asparagus and Mushroom Platter

1 pound large button mushrooms
1/4 tablespoon plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1-1/2 pounds asparagus (tough ends snapped off and bottom 1/3 peeled with vegetable peeler)

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees F. Place mushrooms and 1/4 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl.

Sprinkle w/ salt and pepper and oregano and toss to distribute oil and seasonings. Turn out into a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Toss asparagus in remaining olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, place asparagus on another baking sheet.

Place both baking sheets in oven and roast until asparagus is tender (10-15 minutes depending on thickness) and mushrooms are tender and golden (approximately 20 minutes).

Remove from oven and arrange on platter. Serve hot or at room temperature.