Once known as “sparrow grass,” fresh asparagus of all colors–green, purple or white–is a gastronomic gift of spring.
Lily, Oh Lily
Part of the lily family, asparagus is grown in sandy soils. To cook, wash well under cool water, then steam briefly with the stalks standing upright, stir-fry, or drizzle with olive oil and flash blast in the oven.
Kept in the Dark
White asparagus is just green asparagus that hasn’t seen the light of day. To keep it from turning green, it’s grown in total darkness under mounds of dirt. Popular in Europe, white asparagus is tender and mild.
Caring for Asparagus
Asparagus tastes best when cooked soon after purchase. Markets should refrigerate their asparagus or store it standing upright in cold water. Wrap stalks in damp paper towels and store in the crisper until ready to prepare.
Sauteed Garlic Asparagus
* 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
* 1 bunch fresh asparagus
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
1. Melt the butter or margarine in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and asparagus spears; cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until asparagus is tender. If you like your asparagus well done, reduce heat and cook an additional 10 minutes.
Fresh Asparagus and Chicken Casserole
* 1 (8 ounce) package egg noodles
* 1 1/3 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken meat
* 1 red bell pepper, chopped
* 2 stalks celery, chopped
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1 1/2 cups sour cream
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
* 8 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until almost tender. Drain, and rinse under cold water.
3. Heat the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook onion for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken, red bell pepper, celery, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream and oregano.
4. Spread half of the chicken mixture into the prepared dish. Arrange asparagus over chicken, spread cooked noodles evenly over asparagus, and top with the remaining chicken mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly brown.
Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce
* 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed
* cooking spray
* salt and pepper to taste
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 1 tablespoon soy sauce
* 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray, and season with salt and pepper.
3. Bake asparagus 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until tender.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat, and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Pour over the baked asparagus to serve.
Chicken with Asparagus and Roasted Red Peppers
* 1/2 cup chicken broth
* 1 pound boned and skinned chicken breast halves
* salt and pepper to taste
* 1/2 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
* 1 (7 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
* 1 clove garlic, minced
* 1/2 cup chopped roma (plum) tomatoes
* 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, or to taste
* 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Heat the broth in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and place in the skillet. Cook 15 minutes, until chicken is almost done.
2. Place asparagus, red peppers and garlic in skillet. Continue cooking 10 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear and asparagus is tender. Place tomatoes in skillet during last 2 minutes of cook time. Sprinkle with vinegar. Top with mozzarella cheese to serve.