By Ali Lopez
MRG Contributor

Asparagus season is definitely one of my favorite times of the year! It means spring and warmer weather have finally arrived…yay! When it comes to eating seasonally, local asparagus is a winner here.

Fresh, in-season asparagus tastes SO much better than the imported out-of-season stuff you might find in November. So that means eat up. Asparagus for breakfast, lunch and dinner! 

Asparagus basics

Asparagus is best eaten as soon as you get it home. But if you have to store asparagus, treat it like you would a bunch of flowers: place in a cup of water with the stalks standing straight up and store in the fridge.

Asparagus comes in different thicknesses, from pencil-thin to big fat ones, and both sizes are great. Each thickness is better for certain cooking methods. I like to choose the size based on how I’m going to cook it. If I can only get one size, then I’ll adjust how I will cook it. Thick spears have more moisture in them, so they are best when they are grilled, broiled or sautéed. Thin spears have less water, making them a bit tougher, which makes them best for quick blanching, stir-frying or eating raw. 

And not only is asparagus delicious, it’s a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, chromium and packed with antioxidants.

I’ve got you covered here with a few great recipes for whichever asparagus comes your way!

This first one is really a non-recipe, but a great way to use leftover asparagus, or a reason to cook more than you need so you have leftovers. 

Ali’s asparagus breakfast sammie

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces of really good whole grain or sourdough bread
  • Real butter
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
  • Shredded cheddar or havarti cheese, handful
  • Cooked asparagus (grilled, broiled, steamed, sauteed — your choice); cut into 1” pieces
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toast your bread and butter generously. Cook your eggs how you like. I like this sammie with the eggs scrambled, seasoned with salt and pepper and then at the last minute tossing the shredded cheese and the leftover asparagus into the pan to heat it all up. Pile it all on one slice of bread and top with the other slice. If you had some leftover bacon or really amazing tomatoes, that would be good here, too. Eat and enjoy!

This next one is a great picnic or potluck salad, and once asparagus season is over you can use zucchini, broccoli, Brussels sprouts …

Asparagus and quinoa salad

  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in 1-2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit, orange lemon or lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • A few handfuls of arugula, baby spinach or kale
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds or sunflower seeds
  • Sprinkle of goat, feta or parmesan cheese (optional)

To cook quinoa: In a saucepan, combine the 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook until the quinoa absorbs the liquid. About 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside covered for 5 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400˚ and toss asparagus in olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes until the asparagus is tender.

Meanwhile, combine vinaigrette ingredients. Mix asparagus with quinoa with dressing. Before serving, mix in arugula, cranberries and almonds. Can be served at room temperature or warm.

Ali Lopez is a northern Michigan runner, chef and health coach. You can learn more about her at her website Healthy Chef Ali. She’s also on Facebook here »

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