Why Add Asparagus!

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Asparagus is popping up, and I do mean popping up, this interesting vegetable grows straight up, and can pop up to almost a foot. Most asparagus you will see is green, but there are other varieties you may sometimes see, white, which is more delicate and difficult to harvest, and purple, which is smaller and fruitier in flavor. No matter the type you choose, asparagus is a tasty, versatile vegetable that can be cooked in lots of ways or enjoyed raw in salads.
Why add asparagus? Besides taste and versatility, Asparagus isa bright green veggie packed with vitamins and minerals, it is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Research shows that asparagus is the highest tested food containing Glutathione, one of the most potent cancer fighters. Asparagus is also loaded with natural antioxidants, and is a natural diuretic.
One of my favorite ways to eat asparagus is roasted, you can roast plain or jazz it up with some other ingredients.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Balsamic Reduction

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 7 large fresh basil leaves, sliced thin
  • Balsamic Reduction, homemade or store bought
  • 1 cup Balsamic vinegar

To make your own balsamic reduction, bring one cup of balsamic vinegar to a rapid simmer over medium heat, then reduce to medium-low and cook at a low bubble, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. It is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, (I generally use non-stick spray here).
Toss your tomatoes, minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of olive oil together in a bowl. Season it with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
Nex snap or cut the ends off of your asparagus and add them a large bowl. Toss with the salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and arrange them in a horizontal line on your baking sheet.

Sprinkle your parmesan cheese evenly over the asparagus and spoon your tomato mixture over the top.
Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your preference for doneness.
Once done, sprinkle your sliced basil over the tomatoes and drizzle with your balsamic reduction. Serve immediately.

Puff Pastry Asparagus Bundles

  • 1 pound of fresh asparagus
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 roll of puff pastry
  • 8 ounces chive and onion cream cheese
  • 18 ounces shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon “Everything Bagel Seasoning”

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut stems off asparagus and place in a bowl.
Sprinkle stalks with olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper.
Roll out puff pastry, use a pizza cutter or knife to cut it into 8 rectangles.
Spread cream cheese onto each rectangle. Stack 5 asparagus stalks diagonally across each rectangle.
Sprinkle asparagus with shredded cheese. Wrap the asparagus by taking the top left edge of each rectangle of puff pastry and folding it over the bottom right edge. Press pastry together tightly and seal. Repeat the process for each rectangle.
Brush the tops of the pastry with egg wash, then sprinkle with bagel seasoning.
Place pastries on a half sheet pan and bake at 425 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Serves 8, each serving contains; Calories 400, Carbohydrates 18g., Protein 16g., Fat 30g.,
Sodium 780mg., Fiber 2g.

Creamy Asparagus Casserole

(I have had this one a while it originally came from Southern Living)

  • Cooking spray
  • 5 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 4 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 1/4 lb. medium-thick asparagus (2 bunches), trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (1 lb. 5 oz.trimmed)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 11 x 7-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
Place panko in a medium bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Scoop out 2 tablespoons butter into panko bowl and toss to coat, stir in Parmesan.
Add garlic and shallot to butter in pan, cook until softened, about 3 minutes.
Sprinkle flour over garlic mixture, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Cook until bubbly and thickened, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
Remove pan from heat, add salt and pepper, and Gruyere, stirring until cheese melts.
Stir in asparagus. Spoon the mixture into a prepared baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with panko mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees until topping is browned and asparagus is crisp-tender when pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Cream of Asparagus Soup

  • 3 cups of asparagus, cleaned with ends removed and sliced into thirds
  • 2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon dried Thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Zest of one lemon

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, combine asparagus, broth, thyme, bay leaf and garlic, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Discard bay leaf. Using a blender or an immersion blender, blend until completely smooth. Keep soup in the blender (or pour soup into a bowl if using an immersion blender) and set aside.
Place flour in the pan. Gradually add the milk, stirring with a whisk until blended.

Add pureed asparagus and ground nutmeg, and stir to combine. Bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon zest, sea salt and black pepper to taste. Enjoy. Serves 4.