Food of the Week: Asparagus

My three favorite things about asparagus: its flavor, its appearance, and the fact that it is spelled the same way in Latin. So you know more Latin than you thought you did.

In addition to these endearing characteristics, asparagus is a nutritional goldmine. One cup of cooked asparagus has only 32 calories, just 1 gram of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, nearly three-fourths of the daily value of vitamin C, and 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin A. Asparagus is also loaded with vitamin K (180 percent of the daily value in one cup) and folate (60 percent), is a good source of B vitamins, and has a respectable amount of protein for a vegetable (5 grams in one cup).

Besides the recipes here, try adding asparagus to omelets (or just plain-old scrambled eggs), soups, pizzas, and shish kabobs.

Asparagus, Chicken,
and Apple Salad

This combination might seem a bit odd, but it really works. Don’t worry about having exactly the right amount of asparagus, chicken, and apple—a bit over or under the suggested amounts won’t make a difference.

1 c. asparagus, cut into 1-in. pieces
2 T. cider vinegar
2 T. vegetable or canola oil
2 t. honey
2 t. minced fresh parsley (or ½ t. dried)
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 c. cubed cooked chicken
½ c. diced unpeeled apple
Torn mixed greens (opt.)

Cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3–4 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, honey, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir in the chicken, apple, and asparagus and toss. Serve on its own or over greens.

Cheesy ’Gus

Even if this weren’t so easy and delicious, I would make it for the cute name alone.

Fresh asparagus spears, ends trimmed
Olive oil
Grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss however much asparagus you want in a small amount of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Lay the spears on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a generous amount of Parmesan. Bake about 10 minutes, until cheese is crusty (asparagus should still be slightly crunchy).

Asparagus with
Curry Butter

2 t. butter, melted
1 t. curry powder
½ t. lemon juice
¼ t. salt
2 t. olive or canola oil
1 shallot or ¼ c. onion, finely diced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces

In a small bowl, combine the butter, curry powder, lemon juice, and salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the shallot or onion until softened, about 2 minutes, then add the asparagus. Cook until just tender, 3–5 minutes. Stir in the curry butter.  

Asparagus and
Mushroom Soup

This was a hit at a recent dinner party.

3 T. olive or canola oil
10 oz. shiitake or white button mushrooms, sliced
2 ½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 quart water
1 quart chicken broth
1/3 c. long-grain rice (brown or white)
1 ½ –2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces

1. In a large pot, heat 2 T. of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, ½ t. of salt, and the pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
2. Reduce the heat somewhat and add 1 T. oil and the onion. Cook about 5 minutes, until translucent.
3. Add the water, broth, rice, and 2 t. salt. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until the rice is close to tender, 10-15 minutes. Add the asparagus and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the reserved mushrooms.


A fun, slightly snooty appetizer, courtesy of food writer Fran McCullough. If you end up with extra orange cream cheese, it’s really good with Wheat Thins.

½ c. whipped cream cheese
Zest of one orange
16 asparagus spears, ends trimmed
8 prosciutto slices, cut in half lengthwise

1. Mix the orange zest into the cream cheese and set aside to develop flavor.
2. In a large skillet or pot, boil enough water to cover the asparagus. Reduce heat slightly and cook the spears until just tender, about 5 minutes. Run under cold water and let drain on a towel.
3. Spread a thin smear of cream cheese over each prosciutto slice and wrap around asparagus spears in a spiral fashion. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Lemon Turkey
and Asparagus

You could also make this with chicken instead of turkey.

½ c. chicken broth
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
2 t. cornstarch
¼ t. pepper
2 t. olive or canola oil, divided
1 9-oz. package frozen asparagus cuts, thawed
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. turkey tenderloin, cubed

Combine the first five ingredients and set aside. Heat 1 t. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and sauté until tender. Set aside. Add the other teaspoon of oil and the turkey to the pan. Cook until turkey is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Cook until mixture is thickened and bubbly, about 2 minutes. Return the vegetables to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce.