Thursday, March 15

For The Love of Asparagus!

Asparagus is SPRING on a plate. I love food, ...I love ALL foods, but I do have my "favorites". Asparagus is a favorite of mine. It doesn't matter how it is prepared, I will eat every bite on my plate even when raw. The Asparagus Season is a highlight for any true foodies calendar. It is very low in calories and sodium yet high in all of the B vitamins, along with A,C,D,E,K and so on and so on. It's safe to say that is a healthy choice among many. The finest texture and the strongest and yet delicate nutty taste is in the tips. Okay...I'm guilty.  I must admit to cutting off the bottom 2/3's of the stalk and saving those delectable tips for eating. I try to hide this fact from Mr.P. He hates waste of any kind. Our kiddos learned to eat asparagus as toddlers by using their fingers. It is a great little finger food, I find myself eating it off of my plate this way. I have never corrected this habit in our children. If they should ever be invited to eat at the White House I will make sure they get a quick   e-mail on the tutelage of eating asparagus. I'm NOT too concerned about this, I am just glad they enjoy eating such a wonderful springtime delight! Buy it now while it is in season. You can find them sold in bundles at our local Farmer's Markets here in the North Texas area. ENJOY!

**My own personal note: I have cooked all of these recipes and eaten every one of them, except the Asparagus Lasagna. I can't give you an opinion there but all of the rest were wonderful. The egg topped asparagus, oi!...Mr.P and I could eat that every other day and we would NEVER get weary of it. YUM!
**If someone tries the Asparagus Lasagna let us know how wonderful it is!!

Asparagus, Boiled


Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 2 pounds asparagus, trim or peel their woody stalks
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

What To Do

  • Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over medium heat. Season the water with salt and add the asparagus. 
  • Cook until tender-crisp, very little time, maybe 5 minutes depending on the thickness of their stalks. 
  • Transfer the asparagus to a serving plate and add butter in small pieces to melt. 
  • Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top and season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • Make SURE to taste the asparagus before adding any extra salt. Remember you have already salted the water before cooking. I usually never have to add any extra salt and we eat ours without pepper.

Asparagus, Steamed
                                                        
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups water

Directions

  • Place water in the bottom half of a steamer pan set. Add salt and butter, and bring to a boil.
  • Trim the dry ends off of the asparagus. If the spears are thick, peel them lightly with a vegetable peeler. Place them in the top half of the steamer pan set. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus, or until asparagus is tender.


Asparagus, Roasted
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds fresh asparagus
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. 
  • Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender, but still crisp.


Grilled Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

                                                   
Ingredients
  • 20 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed (thicker asparagus works best when grilling with bacon)
  • 10 Hickory Smoked Bacon strips, halved and stretched


 What To D0

  • Preheat your grill.
  • Place your asparagus on a sheet of tin foil; and coat with Olive oil cooking spray.
  • Wrap your halved and stretched bacon pieces around each spear; wrap tightly and overlap edges.
  • Grill, uncovered, on medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes on each side or until bacon is crisp.
  • Remove from grill and enjoy!
  • This recipe can easily be doubled. I cut my Hickory Smoked Bacon into 1/3's and use 30 asparagus spears instead of 20. I also cracked fresh black pepper while they are cooking on the grill.

Asparagus with Bread Crumb-Fried Eggs

                                         Be Still My Heart!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • A few leaves fresh thyme
  • 2 eggs
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
What To Do
  • Prepare the asparagus: If it is thin, simply cut off the bases. If it is thicker than a No. 2 pencil, cut off the bases and peel, starting at the tips with light pressure and gradually increasing the pressure as you work your way down the stalk until you're pressing quite firmly at the base.
  • In a tightly sealed pot over rapidly boiling water, steam the asparagus until just tender, 2 to 3 minutes for thin asparagus, 4 to 5 minutes for thick. Drain, pat dry, dress lightly with 1 tablespoon oil, season with a pinch of salt and keep warm.
  • Place the bread crumbs in a bowl. Season lightly with salt and thyme leaves and then add enough oil to generously coat, about 1 tablespoon.
  • Crack the eggs over the bread crumbs. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, cover tightly and cook the eggs until they're as done as you like (they are best with the yolks left runny; if you prefer over-easy, you can flip them).
  • Divide the asparagus in half and arrange it on 2 warm plates. When the eggs are done, drape one egg over each asparagus bundle. Add the vinegar to the empty pan and let it sizzle for a moment before drizzling it over the eggs. Serve immediately.

**I LOVE this dish! A few changes I made. I used 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to coat my cooked asparagus instead of olive oil. I also used apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Either would work, I just like the extra ZING!
FABULOUS LAZY SATURDAY MORNING BREAKFAST-IN-BED MEAL! It's almost like eating asparagus with hollandaise sauce.


Pan Fried Salmon with Mustard Vinaigrette and Asparagus


  Okay...I don't have a recipe for this dish, but doesn't it just look like perfection on a plate? Mr.P and Ms.E LOVE salmon, it's true and not so much my favorite fish. But this picture just made me want to eat salmon, so off to the Dallas Farmer's Market we did GO! Here is how I prepared this easy and simple yet surprisingly, sophisticated meal.


  • I made my mustard vinaigrette the night before and kept it in the back of the fridge.
  • Depending on how many people you are feeding and their love asparagus will be your guide as to how much you buy. I buy ours in bundles at the market. I buy 1-2 depending on if our eldest is in town. He could eat a whole bundle all by himself. Again depending on the number of people eating and their love of salmon will be your buying guide here as well.
  • You can cook your asparagus any way you prefer. You can look back at this guide and choose to boil, steam, roast or grill....I would not use bacon though, but that's just my preference. I chose to boil simply because I could confine all of my cooking to my stove-top. After I boiled and sat my aside asparagus, I added a dash of olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to a non-stick T-Fal skillet. When it was hot I added my salmon fillets. Grilling each side for only 3-4 minutes, just until cooked through. Remove them to a warm plate.
  • To your hot skillet add as much mustard vinaigrette you think you will need. Let it get a good sizzle and take it off of the heat immediately.
  • To plate, add asparagus to each plate, top with salmon and  drizzle a spoonful of mustard vinaigrette over top. I served ours with a simple rice pilaf. Great light meal! Enjoy!


Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 T whole grain mustard
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 t white wine vinegar
  • 3 T vegetable oil
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • salt to taste

What To Do

Whisk all the ingredients together to form an emulsion.
Makes a little less than 1/2 cup.



 Asparagus Lasagna


Ingredients
  • 9 lasagna sheets, fresh or dried
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 2 (8.5-ounce) jars sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 1 1/2 packed cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus 3/4 cup
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 bunches asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter

What To Do


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta or 2 to 3 minutes for fresh pasta. Drain pasta.
  • In a food processor combine the sun-dried tomatoes and basil. Pulse until the mixture is combined. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Set aside.
  • In a large skillet brown the pancetta until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, and garlic and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the ricotta, salt, and pepper and stir to combine
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a 9 by 13-inch baking dish sprinkle some of the sun-dried tomato mixture on the bottom of the casserole dish. Place some lasagna sheets, then half asparagus mixture. Next sprinkle some mozzarella cheese and some of the remaining 3/4 cup Parmesan. Continue for 1 more layer. Top with lasagna sheets, some sun-dried tomato mixture, mozzarella, and Parmesan. Dot the top with butter. Bake until the ingredients are warm and the cheese is melted, about 25 minutes.


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