By Sherrie Norris
It it’s showing up in the produce aisles, it’s a safe bet that its season has arrived. And so it is for asparagus, as this week’s grocery store ads are touting its arrival.
I’m not one who will be running to the store specifically for this springtime delicacy, and like others I know, I don’t consider it a favorite vegetable, but I have acquired a taste for it, on occasion, and appreciate its nutritional value.
Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol and has only about 50 calories in a six-stalk serving. It is recommended for many special diets, including renal, low-sodium, diabetic and low cholesterol. It is rich in Riboflavin (vitamin B2), an important element for smooth skin.
Fresh or frozen, asparagus may be boiled in a small amount of water in a saucepan or steamer until tender, for approximately 10 minutes for fresh or 7 minutes for frozen. It also comes canned, which requires very little cooking time.
Asparagus can also be stir-fried in small pieces in a little hot oil, stirred constantly until tender-crisp, about three to five minutes.
If microwaved, it should be placed in a baking dish with tips toward the center with ¼ cup of water and covered. Microwave at full power: six-nine minutes for spears, five-seven minutes for pieces.
1 bunch thin asparagus spears, trimmed3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
Add all ingredients to list
Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Place asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before
Refrigerated pie crust
1 can (10.5 oz.) cut spears asparagus, well drained
1 jar (2.5 oz.) sliced mushrooms, well drained
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
3eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup half-and-half
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
Heat oven to 350°. Place soft pie crust in a 9-inch glass pie pan. Arrange asparagus and mushrooms in crust. In large bowl, toss cheese with flour. Stir in eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour over asparagus and mushrooms.
Bake 55 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
*If fresh asparagus is not available, substitute ½ pound for the canned asparagus. Remove tough ends by breaking them off as far down as the stalks snap easily; cut the remaining into ½ -inch pieces.
Easy Asparagus Roll-ups:
Pickled or plain asparagus spears
Thin slices of ham
Place spears and cream cheese on ham; roll up and cut into small pieces, if desired.
Chicken and Asparagus Stir-Fry
1 cup uncooked rice
2 Tbsp. cooking oil of preference
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½”- wide strips
2 small red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
½ lb. fresh asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
½ cup bottled stir-fry sauce
Cook rice according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken, stir-fry 3-4 minutes until chicken is no longer pink in center. Stir in peppers and asparagus; reduce heat to medium. Cover; cook 2 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring once or twice. Stir in sauce. Serve immediately over rice.
1 large can evaporated milk
1 stick butter or margarine
1 can asparagus
2 boiled eggs
1 cup grated cheese
½ cup sliced or slivered almonds
Heat milk and margarine; add 2 Tbsp. flour and cook until slightly thickened. Add a little asparagus juice from can.
Butter a baking dish. Add a layer of cracker crumbs, then a layer of asparagus, grated boiled eggs, grated cheese and almonds. Repeat layers and pour milk mixture over top and finish with crumbs and dot with a little more margarine. Place in moderate oven, at about 300 degrees, and bake until heated all the way through, about 20-30 minutes. Do not allow milk mixture to get too thick.