One of the surefire signs of spring is bright green asparagus standing at attention in the produce section. Pick up a bunch and take advantage of the nutrients (Vitamin C and folic acid to name a few) and antioxidants they provide. The key to enjoying this seasonal specialty is to use asparagus within a couple days of purchase as it is quite perishable (if you must store it, wrap fresh-cut ends with a damp paper towel and keep in your crisper drawer). Green asparagus is the most common variety we find but you might also see white asparagus (more popular in Europe), which is generally thicker. The varying thickness of asparagus stalks will affect cooking time. If very thick, peel the tough outer skin with a vegetable peeler to increase tenderness. With all of the asparagus recipes and ideas below, it should be easy to find a way to enjoy asparagus tonight! 1. Steam asparagus and top with a quick dressing of white miso, rice vinegar, reduced-sodium tamari and freshly grated ginger whisked together. 2. Add 1-inch pieces of asparagus spears to a pot of quinoa or rice pilaf about 5 to 7 minutes before it’s done cooking. The asparagus will gently steam while the grains finish cooking.
3. There’s almost nothing simpler than grilled or roasted asparagus (depending on the temperature outside!). Toss with a little extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and spread on the grill or roast in a 400°F oven on a baking sheet until browned and tender. Flavor with chopped fresh parsley, freshly grated lemon zest and/or grated Pecorino Romano. 4. For a classic and simple appetizer, wrap steamed whole asparagus spears with thinly sliced prosciutto. 5. Cut 1 bunch of asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces, steam or sauté and toss with a light dressing of Dijon mustard, lemon juice, chives and a pinch of sea salt.
6. Pair asparagus and cheddar or gruyère in a rich and satisfying omelet or frittata. Here’s one of our favorites. 7. Make a tasty springtime stir-fry with garlic, green onions, radishes and asparagus spears. Add sliced chicken breast, pork tenderloin or shrimp, if you like. 8. Sandwich steamed asparagus spears between thick sliced fontina cheese and caramelized onions on two slices of French bread and grill or cook on a Panini press. 9. Make Quinoa Primavera with Chicken, Spring Peas and Asparagus, a quick and tasty weeknight meal full of spring greens. 10. Combine asparagus with broccoli in a bright and flavorful creamy soup (which, surprisingly, doesn’t require cream!). What’s your favorite way to enjoy asparagus?