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Festival of flavorful asparagus

By: Gary Gilligan
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Well this last weekend was the official kick off to the festival season, San Joaquin Asparagus Festival kicked off their 33rd year. Serving up everything asparagus including asparagus margaritas and asparagus ice cream. Today’s recipes are a salute to this spring’s vegetable. Do you prefer the thin or thick ones? Mayo or no mayo? Check out Grazing with Gary on Facebook and let me know your answers.

Grilled Asparagus and Lemon

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (large bunch) medium-sized asparagus
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 4 slices, discard the ends
  • 1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

Directions

  1. Oil the grates of a grill and set it to medium high, or oil a grill pan and place it over medium heat on the stovetop.
  2. Toss asparagus in 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Grill asparagus for five minutes per side, until grill marks are formed and asparagus is tender but still bright green and pliable, but not limp.
  4. Toss lemon slices in remaining olive oil. Grill over high heat for about two minutes per side, until the lemons are blackened in spots. Note that lemons should be well cooked because doing so removes most of the bitterness that would otherwise be in the pith.
  5. Remove lemons from grill and chop each entire slice finely ( it will be mushy), including the peel. Discard any seeds.
  6. Place the asparagus in a bowl and toss with the chopped lemon, and remaining salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired, to serve.

 

Baked Asparagus Fries with Creamy Chipotle Dip
Ingredients
Baked Asparagus Fries:

  • 1 pound asparagus spears
  • 1/3 cup whole grain breadcrumbs, optional Panko
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Kosher or sea salt to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat milk

Creamy Chipotle Dip:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon pureed chipotle peppers (more or less depending on the spice level desired)
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed and minced
  • Kosher or sea salt

Directions
Baked Asparagus Fries:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Trim ends of asparagus spears.
  3. In a small mixing bowl combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper. Dip asparagus into milk and dredge into bread crumbs to coat all sides. Note: It may be necessary to press crumbs onto asparagus to ensure the crumbs stick.
  4. Lightly mist a non-stick cookie sheet with cooking spray. and arrange asparagus spears on cookie sheet so the spears are not touching. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Creamy Chipotle Dip:
Combine ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

 

Broccoli and Asparagus Soup, Slow Cooked
Ingredients
Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, fat-free and low-sodium
  • 2 cups milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Croutons:

  • 4 slices good quality whole grain bread, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions
Soup:

  1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter. When melted add the cornstarch (or flour) and stir until bubbly. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 3 minutes until onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and asparagus and stir until coated.
  2. Transfer this mixture to your slow cooker pot and add the stock to cover. Cook on low heat, until the vegetables are soft, about 6-8 hours.
  3. Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until desired consistency. Pour back in the crockpot and stir in the milk and lemon juice. Heat until soup is hot throughout. Season with salt and pepper.

Croutons:

  1. Toss the bread cubes with the olive oil, chili powder, and cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven until crisp, stirring once, about 10 minutes.
  2. Serve the soup topped with the croutons, additional cheese, and pieces of broccoli or asparagus spears if desired.