Warm weather is bringing forth some of the best-looking asparagus we've seen in years.
Stockton, CA (Vocus) March 19, 2010
Versatile spring asparagus is the busy home chef's best friend. Fresh from the fields of California, this year's crop is in the market now and ready to add a healthy bright bite of spring to a full array of dishes. As a side, salad or tossed into a main dish, these popular green spears bring pleasing flavor, silky texture and a powerhouse of nutrition to any meal.
"Warm weather is bringing forth some of the best-looking asparagus we've seen in years," said Cherie Watte, Executive Director of the California Asparagus Commission. "We're seeing the uniform size, height and color that consumers expect from California growers. Production is expected to ramp-up through March and April, with ample supplies of America's favorite side dish in markets nationwide."
Here are two recipes influenced by different parts of the world but both putting fresh asparagus to delicious use. A French-style tart goes to together in a snap thanks to store-bought puff pastry. Just add mouth-watering ingredients like tangy goat cheese, caramelized onion and lightly sautéed fresh California asparagus. These tarts are a savory treat that can serve as a tasty side dish or entrée for mid-morning brunch, lunch or dinner. From Asia, a Szechuan-style stir fry combines chopped asparagus spears with spicy flavorful ginger, garlic, toasted sesame seeds and red chili flakes for a fresh burst of exotic taste sensations. Enjoy with beef, lamb, pork, chicken or fish; add tofu for a fresh vegetarian entrée. For more fresh California asparagus recipes, photos and videos visit http://www.calasparagus.com.
Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart
puff pastry, store bought, frozen
4 oz. log goat cheese
1 oz. cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
12oz. asparagus, ends discarded
salt to taste
Makes 8 servings
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend all filling ingredients in food processor until smooth. Slice off 1/2 of pastry sheet, approximately 10 x 5 inches. Roll pastry out to 13 x 5 inches. Place on a parchment- lined sheet pan. Spread filling on top of puff pastry, leaving a ½ inch border. Refrigerate until ready to assemble.
Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add diced onion. Cover and sauté until caramelized. Chop asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Add to pan. Season with salt. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Arrange asparagus mixture on top of the pastry*. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until pastry is golden brown. Transfer to cutting board. Slice as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
*add chopped red bell pepper for color
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 126, fat 10 gms, calories from fat 90 gms, saturated fat 5 gms, cholesterol 45 mg, sodium 170 mg, dietary fiber 2 gms, protein 7 gms
Sweet and Spicy Szechuan Asparagus
2 lbs. asparagus ends discarded
1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Makes 8 servings
Cut asparagus into 3 inch pieces on the diagonal. In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, chili flakes and pepper. Set aside. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add 1/2 cup water and asparagus. Cover and cook until asparagus is still crisp to the bite, about 2 to 3 minutes. Uncover and pour off any remaining water. Add oil, garlic and ginger to the pan with asparagus. Sauté until lightly browned. Add soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil. Cook until the sauce coats the asparagus. Sprinkle in toasted sesame seeds. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve immediately.
Nutrients per serving:
Calories 85, fat 4 gms, Calories from fat 36, saturated fat 1gm, sodium 540mg, dietary fiber 8 gms, protein 8gms
For more information, recipes, and tips, visit: http://www.calasparagus.com and for facts on asparagus go to: http://www.Asparagus Facts. High-resolution photos are available at http://www.calaspphoto.com .
Recipes and photos courtesy of the California Asparagus Commission
© California Asparagus Commission
Media Contact: Patricia Schneider
Phone: (415) 717-7595
Fax: (435) 417-7595