Asparagus

It’s about that time when our patches of asparagus are in full growth. It’s a healthy food besides having a distinctive taste. It contains no fat or cholesterol of any significance and is an important source of potassium. When you’re buying asparagus, select spears of similar diameter so they cook evenly; the tips should be compactly closed.

 

Taste of Home tells us to clean asparagus, rinse spears in cold water. Snap off the ends as far down as they will easily break when gently bent, or cut off the tough white portion. If spears are large use a vegetable peeler to gently peel the tough area of the spear from  the end to just below the tip. If tips are large, scrape off scales with a knife.

 

ASPARAGUS HAM SWIRLS   

16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed

3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

16 thin slices deli ham

16 slices process Swiss cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1 c. dry bread crumbs

Vegetable oil

In large skillet, bring 1/2-inch water and asparagus to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for three – five minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Spread about one teaspoon of mustard on each ham slice. Top with slice of cheese. Place asparagus spear at one end (trim to fit if needed). Roll up each ham slice tightly; secure with three toothpicks. Dip ham rolls in egg, then roll in bread crumbs. In electric skillet, heat 1-inch oil to 350°.  Fry rolls, a few at a time, for three – four minutes or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels; keep warm. Cut each roll between toothpicks into three pieces. Makes four dozen.

 

ASPARAGUS & WILD RICE CASSEROLE  

2 Tbsp. chopped onion

2 c. cooked wild rice

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into

1/8 tsp. salt

2” pieces, cooked

3/4 c. shredded Cheddar  cheese

1 c. milk

6 bacon strips, diced and cooke

1/2 c. sour cream

In small saucepan sauté onion in butter until tender. Stir in flour and salt until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to boil over medium heat; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; cool for one minute. Stir in sour cream until smooth. In greased 11-inch by 7-inch baking dish, layer wild rice, asparagus, sour cream mixture, cheese and bacon. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until heated through. Serves 6.

 

ASPARAGUS SALMON PIE 

1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed

2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 c. chopped onion

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1 (14 3/4 oz) can pink salmon, drained, boned and flaked

2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1 (9”) unbaked pastry shell

1/2 c. milk

In skillet bring 1/2-inch water and asparagus to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for three – four minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Reserve six spears, cut remaining spears into bite-size pieces. In small saucepan saute onion in butter until tender. In small bowl beat eggs, milk, parsley, basil and salt. Stir in salmon and onion. Place cut asparagus in pastry shell; top with salmon mixture. Arrange reserved asparagus spears on top. Cover edges of crust with foil. Bake at 425° for 30-35 minutes or until filling is set. Makes six servings.

 

ASPARAGUS PASTA SALAD   

1 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1 1/2” pieces

1 (16 oz.) pkg. multicolored corkscrew pasta, cooked and drained

1/2 c. sliced ripe olives

1 c. diced cooked chicken

1 1/2 tsp. dill weed

1 c. diced fully cooked ham

1 1/2 c. bottled zesty Italian dressing

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced

Place 1/2-inch water in large saucepan; add asparagus. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for three – four minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well and cool. In large bowl combine asparagus and remaining ingredients; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate three – four hours or overnight. Makes 12 servings.

 

CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP

1/2 c. chopped onion

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/4 c. butter

2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans chicken broth

2 1/2 lbs. fresh asparagus,trimmed, in 1/2” pieces

1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. dried tarragon

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. white pepper

3 c. half-and-half cream

1 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Shredded Swiss cheese, optional

In large saucepan, sauté onion in oil until tender. Add broth, asparagus and tarragon. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for five – eight minutes or until asparagus is tender. Cool for 10 minutes. In blender or food processor puree the asparagus mixture, a third at a time; set aside. In a Dutch oven melt butter. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Cook and stir for two minutes or until golden. Gradually add cream. Bring to boil; cook and stir for two minutes or until thickened. Reduce heat; stir in pureed asparagus and lemon juice and heat through. Garnish with cheese if desired. Makes eight servings (about two quarts).

(320) 573-2655  • e-mail: valerie@upstel.net

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