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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Asparagus Spells Spring

By Sherrie Norris

I have to admit, asparagus is not my favorite vegetable. However, recently, in a group of women, when asked what vegetable we could be, if we could be a vegetable, I stunned myself by responding “asparagus.” Why? “Because it’s tall and skinny and the people who like it really like it. No one just pretends to like asparagus.”

I will never know how I came up with that analogy so quickly, but it’s true. You either like it or you don’t – and yes, its physical appearance is an added bonus. It looks healthy and it is.

I learned to tolerate it a few years ago, when it was introduced in casserole form. Who doesn’t like a casserole, all creamy and covered with cheese?

I know, that takes away the nutritious value, but it helped. Now, however, I actually enjoy it roasted in the oven, covered with a little olive oil and sea salt. Age has a way of putting things in perspective.

Each spring, asparagus makes a grand entrance onto produce shelves in most grocery stores and enjoys a rather short-lived season in some areas.

Perfect for those counting calories and fat grams, asparagus is one of the best choices, with absolutely no fat or cholesterol, and only about 50 calories in a six-stalk serving

Asparagus is recommended for many special diets, including renal, low-sodium, diabetic and low cholesterol. It is rich in Riboflavin (vitamin B2), an important vitamin for smooth skin.

Asparagus, fresh or canned, 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 can also be sauteed or stir-fried in small pieces in a little hot oil, stirred constantly until tender-crisp, about 3-5- minutes.

If microwaving, place in a baking dish with tips toward the center. Add ¼ cup of water and cover. Microwave at full-power: 6-9 minutes for spears, 5-7 minutes for pieces.

Hopefully, you will discover, rediscover and/or nurture your love for asparagus through some of our recipes this week.


Asparagus Casserole

2 cans asparagus

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

1 medium onion, chopped

2 eggs, beaten

½ cup crushed cracker crumbs

Drain asparagus. Arrange half in a 2-quart casserole. Mix soup, mayonnaise, cheese, salt, pepper, onion and eggs to make a sauce. Pour half over asparagus. Add remaining asparagus. Top with remaining sauce. Sprinkle cracker crumbs on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.


Easy Asparagus Roll-ups

Pickled asparagus spears

Cream cheese

Thin slices of ham

Place spears and cream cheese on ham and roll up. Cut into small pieces, if desired.


Asparagus and Sauteed Vegetable Salad

1 head lettuce, shredded

¼ cup olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. grated gingerroot

½ red bell pepper; diced

½ yellow bell pepper; diced

½ lb. tofu

½ lb. eggplant, cubed

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ cup vegetable stock

1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces and steamed (about 4 to 5 minutes)

2 Tbs. fresh parsley

Arrange lettuce on a large platter. Heat half the oil in a saucepan and add garlic, ginger, peppers and tofu. Cover and cook 4 minutes. Add remaining oil and eggplant. Cook, uncovered, an additional 3 minutes. Add white wine and stock. Stir with wooden spoon until liquid is reduced, about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in asparagus and parsley. Serve on bed of lettuce.


Asparagus and Brown Rice Medley

2 cups cooked brown rice

2 Tbsp. oil
of choice

1½ cups cut asparagus

½ cup diced onion

½ cups celery, sliced diagonally into ¼-inch pieces

¾ cup sliced mushrooms

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Cook brown rice according to package directions and set aside. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat until hot. Add oil and heat until hot. Add drained asparagus, onion, celery and mushrooms. Stir-fry for 2 minutes; add soy sauce. Stir, cover and cook 2 more minutes or until mixture is hot. Serve immediately over rice.


Asparagus Supreme

1 large can evaporated milk

1 stick margarine (plus a little extra for topping)

2 Tbsp. flour

1 can asparagus

1 cup grated cheese

2 boiled eggs, grated

½ cup sliced or slivered almonds

Cracker crumbs

Heat milk and margarine; add 2 Tbsp. flour and cook until slightly thickened. Add a little asparagus juice from can. Spray or butter a baking dish; add a layer of cracker crumbs, a layer of asparagus, grated boiled eggs, grated cheese and almonds. Repeat layers; pour milk mixture over top and finish with crumbs and a dot with butter. 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.