It’s asparagus time. Fresh asparagus is readily available at any local farm stand and farmers markets right now. Large chain grocery stores don’t always have local asparagus even though their signs say it is. Their idea of local is questionable, so shop at farmers markets to guarantee you are getting local produce.
Asparagus is quick and simple to make. Snap the tough ends off. The stalk will naturally break where it gets tender. Be sure to wash the dirt off of the stalks. Some people even soak the stalks to get the dirt out from under the little leaves. You can also take off these leaves, but frankly, who has the time for that.
If you are in a time crunch, you can steam or roast your asparagus. To roast, heat your oven to 400 degrees. Coat the spears with oil (even cooking spray will do), season to taste with salt and pepper and maybe some red pepper flakes. Roast for 8-10 minutes and you’re done.
But when plain asparagus isn’t enough, here are a few recipes worth trying.
LEMON PARMESAN ASPARAGUS
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
3 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
Set your oven to 425 degrees F.
Line a large baking pan with parchment paper or coat it lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
Place the asparagus in the pan then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, then arrange the asparagus in a single even layer.
Drizzle lemon juice over the asparagus, followed by 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese.
Bake 8–10 minutes until asparagus is crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.
Remove from oven and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.
BALSAMIC BROWN BUTTER ROASTED ASPARAGUS
1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tbsp. butter
2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Freshly cracked salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add asparagus to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and arrange asparagus in a single layer. Season with freshly cracked salt and pepper. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until tender but still crisp.
The last few minutes of cooking, melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Once melted, cook approximately 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus to taste, tossing well to coat.
BACON WRAPPED ASPARAGUS
20 stalks asparagus trimmed
10 slices bacon classic cut
1 tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and trim your asparagus. Then drizzle a tsp of olive oil over them and season with salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to coat them.
Cut the 10 slices of bacon in half lengthwise. Begin wrapping each strip of cut bacon around the asparagus. Try to wrap them as tightly as possible.
Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top. Place the bacon-wrapped asparagus (seam side down) onto the wire rack. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Use tongs to flip the asparagus over and bake for another 10 minutes. Next, turn the oven on broil and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes.
— By Karen E. Viereck, Editor/Publisher