Recipes: Spear into Asparagus

Pair the seasonal staple with quinoa, berries, and almonds for a spring favorite


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QUINOA WITH ASPARAGUS, ALMONDS, AND FRESH BERRIES SALAD

(SERVES 8 OR MORE)

Quinoa, an Andes native (now grown in this country), is not really a grain (so, it’s gluten-free), but it cooks and eats like one. It’s actually the seeds of a leafy plant that’s a cousin to spinach and beets. Mild in flavor, it boasts impressive amounts of protein, iron, potassium, and other vitamins and minerals, as well as a respectable amount of dietary fiber (6 grams per 1/4-cup dry).

  • 1-1/2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons grape-seed or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1 pound fresh asparagus, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups sliced fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries (or a combination)

Quinoa can be dusty, so wash it three times in cold water, draining well after each wash. Fill a large saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce heat to a low boil and cook, uncovered, until tender, for an additional 20 minutes.
Transfer to a colander or sieve and drain well. Place drained quinoa in a large bowl and add olive oil, tossing well to coat. Add remaining ingredients and toss well again. Serve at room temperature.


CHINESE ASPARAGUS SALAD

(SERVES 8 - 10)

  • 2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed and spears cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup minced Asian chives
  • 2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)

Bring a large saucepan of water to a rolling boil. Add asparagus and cook 1 minute. Drain, but do not rinse the asparagus and transfer to a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk well. Toss the asparagus with dressing and serve immediately. Or chill the asparagus up to a day ahead and toss with dressing just before serving.


ASPARAGUS SOUP
 

(SERVES 6)
 

  • 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tablesoons flour
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or chicken broth
  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds fresh asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces (reserve 1 inch of tips for garnish)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half (optional)

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onions and sauté 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add broth, asparagus, and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook approximately 1 hour, covered.

Remove from heat and cool to just warm. Purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer back to the saucepan and heat to warm. Stir in juice and adjust salt to taste. Add more broth or water for desired consistency, if needed. Before serving, stir in the half-and-half and asparagus tips and heat for 5 minutes more. Serve hot.
 

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