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All Hail Asparagus

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The snappy, herbaceous crunch of asparagus brightens up all kinds of dishes, singlehandedly shifting our meals from the rich stews and thick leafy greens of winter toward the lighter simplicity of spring. These recipes show off its versatility with a variety of flavors.

Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad (serves four)

Crisp, fresh asparagus stalks are packed with flavor and make this spring salad truly shine.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch asparagus (large spears)
  • 4 ounces baby arugula
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Preparation

In a small bowl, mix together shallots, vinegar and mustard. While whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Working on a flat surface, shave the asparagus with a vegetable peeler into thin ribbons by holding the tough end of the spear and peeling toward the tip. Discard the tough ends after peeling.

On a serving platter, gently toss together asparagus, arugula and dressing. Sprinkle with pine nuts and cheese; serve immediately.

Each serving: 200cal, 18g fat (3g sat), 5mg chol, 290mg sodium, 7g carb, 3g fiber, 3g sugars, 6g protein


Asparagus Ricotta Toasts (serves four)

Creamy ricotta toasts are a perfect platform for sautéed asparagus. A sprinkling of lemon zest, sea salt and black pepper makes these tasty little bites a delightful appetizer or light lunch.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 pound pencil-thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 4 slices whole-grain bread, toasted

Preparation

In a small bowl, combine cheese, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, chives, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Spread ricotta mixture evenly on toasts and top with asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.


Chicken Pasta Salad with Asparagus and Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette (serves four to six)

This bright and fresh pasta salad uses the best of spring ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces farfalle pasta
  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed and stalks cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 shallot, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add asparagus to the pot during the last 3 minutes of cooking; drain and set aside.

Combine lemon juice, Dijon mustard, capers, shallots and lemon zest in a bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Toss pasta, asparagus, vinaigrette, chicken, feta and chives in a large bowl. Serve warm or cold.

Each serving: 430cal, 23g fat (6g sat), 65mg chol, 400mg sodium, 32g carb, 2g fiber, 26g protein




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