Asparagus is in season and can be purchased for a reasonable price. It can be eaten raw, steamed, grilled, and/or roasted. To steam just place asparagus in a steamer basket in a pot with one inch of water, cook on medium high heat until just tender, about 4-7 minutes. Add a drizzle of olive oil or sesame oil and toss to coat and serve.
Asparagus goes well raw in salads or omelets. It’s a nice side dish for fish, chicken or pork. Just cut it into thin one inch slices to toss in a salad.
Choose firm bright green spears with tight tips. Store asparagus by cutting one half inch off the bottoms of the stalks and stand upright in a container with one inch of water, place a plastic bag over the top and refrigerate. Asparagus has its best flavor if served within four days of purchase. Make sure the stalks are not limp when purchasing. One pound usually serves 4 people. Trim the woody ends from the spears. These may be cooked in a chicken broth and used as a base for a soup.
Fresh Asparagus with Lemon-Basil Yogurt Dip
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 lemon, juice reserved
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
Pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, lemon zest, yogurt, salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth; stir in basil. Use this dressing as a dip for the fresh asparagus.
Add to a crudité plate of fresh carrots, bell pepper sticks, trimmed string beans, cucumber slices, and/or celery sticks, along with the asparagus pieces.
If desired, asparagus may be steamed for 3-5 minutes until bright green and crisp tender, immediately rinse under cold water, to stop cooking, drain, pat dry with paper towels and serve.
Salad with Asparagus and Blueberries
4 cups summer greens, cut into bite size pieces
1 small Vidalia onion or red onion, thinly sliced
½ pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal
1 cup fresh blueberries
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
Poppy seed dressing
In a clear glass salad bowl toss together greens, onion, asparagus, and blueberries, mix well. When ready to serve lightly coat salad with some poppy seed dressing and toss in feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Also for a tasty dish, the roasted asparagus can be cut into 1-inch pieces and tossed with whole-wheat cooked pasta. I like to add 4 strips of crisply cooked crumbled bacon to the asparagus.
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, minced then smashed
In a rimmed baking sheet toss together olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, mix to coat. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 12-20 minutes.
Sausage Asparagus Cheese Bake
1 6- ounce package herb flavored stuffing mix
½ pound pork sausage meat (I like to use sweet Italian sausage meat sometimes.)
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
2 garlic cloves minced
¾ pound fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut into ½ - inch pieces
1 ½ cups or 6-ounces shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups half-and-half
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Set aside.
Crumble sausage meat into a large skillet; add onions and cook over medium heat until meat is no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and Worcestershire sauce, and cook 1-minute longer, drain. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the stuffing, sausage mixture and asparagus pieces. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 inch baking dish, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese.
In another bowl whisk together eggs and half-and-half; pour over sausage mixture.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake 5 minutes longer or until bubbly.
Fettuccine with Shrimp and Asparagus
12 ounces fettuccine or spaghetti
2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil
1 medium Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle of clam juice or 1-cup reserved pasta water
Pinch of salt
1 pound fresh large shrimp, shelled and deveined with tail part of shell left on, if desired
½ pound fresh thin asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into ½-inch pieces
½ cup fresh parley leaves, chopped
Cook fettuccine according to package directions, set aside.
In a skillet over medium heat place olive oil and cook until hot. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 7-8 minutes until a golden color and tender, stirring often. Add wine and increase heat to medium high and cook for 1-minute. Stir in clam juice and salt, heat to boiling. Stir in shrimp and cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp just turn pink.
Toss cooked fettuccine into skillet with shrimp mixture. Gently toss in asparagus and parsley, and toss to coat, cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
Roasted Asparagus Wrapped in Prosciutto
This recipe may be served as an appetizer or a side dish.
24 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
¼ cup boiling water
12 thin slices prosciutto, about 8-ounces, cut in half lengthwise
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place asparagus spears and ¼-cup boiling water in a large roasting pan covered with foil. Place pan in a 400 degree oven, and steam asparagus until tender, about 12-15 minutes, transfer to paper towels and drain, wipe pan dry.
On waxed paper place 1-thin strip of prosciutto and sprinkle with 1-teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese. Roll prosciutto around asparagus spear, overlapping slightly to cover the spear. Repeat with remaining asparagus, prosciutto, and Parmesan cheese.
Roast in 400 degree oven until heated through, about 6-8 minutes.
Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.