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Try These Simple Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus is among the first of veggies to grow in Michigan’s spring. Though you generally catch asparagus in the produce section in a 10-inch bouquet, the plant can grow a whopping 6 feet length.

This impressive crop makes for an excellent side item as it’s low in calories, rich in nutrients, and versatile. Just half a cup of asparagus satisfies more than half of the vitamin K needed for the day, which the body uses to sustain healthy bones and help with blood clotting. Asparagus is also naturally high in folate, a vitamin involved in cell growth, and is especially important for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects. Like a lot of other non-starchy veggies, it’s high in fiber and plenty of antioxidants to aid in healthy digestion and prevent illness.

Asparagus tastes especially delicious when it’s in-season. This spring, try one of these simple recipes featuring asparagus:

Crispy Roasted Asparagus with a Healthier Spicy Mayo Dipping Sauce

Appetizer serves 2-4

Veggies are the perfect low-calorie vehicle for dips, but sometimes it’s nice to think beyond the crunchy crudites. This hint-of-spicy dip is healthier than most mayo-based dips as it relies on some yogurt for creaminess. Many may not think of asparagus as a dipper as sometimes it can take on that dreaded stringy texture and sulfur-y smell. However, this can easily be avoided by choosing the right cooking technique. One way is by quickly roasting the asparagus on the top rack under the broiler – this makes them crispy, tender, and pleasantly fragrant. Enjoy this as an appetizer or a quick and healthy snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and washed
  • Spray olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. sriracha

Instructions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Add asparagus, leaving space between stalks. Spray with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place on top rack under broiler until lightly charred, about 5-7 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks.
  2. In a small bowl, add mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, lime juice and sriracha. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. Serve with asparagus.

Pistachio-encrusted Salmon with Zesty Orzo and Asparagus

Serves 4

If you’re looking to add a new heart-healthy recipe to your weeknight menu, search no further. This recipe combines nutrient-dense asparagus with Mediterranean flavors and staples including parsley, citrus, orzo, and sundried tomatoes. This one checks the boxes for heart health by including healthy fats, antioxidants, and fiber.

For the salmon 

Ingredients

  • 4 5-ounce salmon filets 
  • 1 Tbsp. honey 
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard 
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs 
  • ½ cup pistachios 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • Spray olive oil 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
  2. In a small bowl, combine Dijon mustard and honey and whisk. 
  3. Brush the salmon with the mustard and honey mixture 
  4. In a food processor, combine panko breadcrumbs, pistachios, and salt and pepper. If you do not have a food processor, finely chop the pistachios and combine with breadcrumbs. 
  5. Pour over the pistachio mixture over the salmon, pressing down to allow it to stick. 
  6. Spray with olive oil, then bake for 11-14 minutes, or until desired internal temperature. Thicker salmon filets need to cook toward the longer end of the range.

For the Zesty Orzo and Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1.5 cups orzo pasta (dry)
  • Salt to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ bunch asparagus, cut to 2-inch lengths
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes, julienne cut
  • ½ lemon, juiced and zested
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan
  • ½ lemon, juiced and zested
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Instructions

  1. Bring 5-7 cups of water to a boil and season with salt.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and toast, tossing until golden.
  3. Add the orzo to the boiling water and cook until al dente, according to package instructions, about 7-8 minutes. The saucepan will be used in the next step.
  4. In the large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until golden and fragrant. Turn up to medium heat, and add asparagus and took until tender.
  5. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to saucepan with asparagus. Add lemon juice, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Finish with lemon zest and fresh parsley.

The Best Grilled Asparagus with Citrus Glaze

Side Item Serves 3-4

As many people start pulling out their grills in the springtime – it’s important to save a spot for the vegetables. Greet grill season with this asparagus recipe that pairs well with citrus glazed salmon or marinated and grilled chicken. The glaze features fresh citrus and a hint of honey that allows for caramelization and beautiful color to form on the asparagus as it hit the flames. 

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat the grill and prepare the grates with spray oil.
  2. In a bowl, make the citrus glaze – whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, soy sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. 
  3. In a bowl or on a tray, add asparagus and toss with enough to coat of the glaze, saving the rest for after grilling.
  4. Grill the asparagus until tender, flipping after lightly charred with grill marks. 
  5. Take the asparagus off the grill and add to serving plate. Brush with the rest of the glaze.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more health tips and information, visit AHealthierMichigan.org