Food Challenge: Asparagus

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Falling between naps and NPR in the big bucket of “things I hated as a kid but now adore as an adult” is the vegetable asparagus. For me, these delectable little spears signal the end of the long tunnel of winter and usher in warm, breezy thoughts of springtime.

My love affair with asparagus began during our first tour in Germany. There, towns devote entire weekends to celebrate “spargel,” where you can enjoy a four-course meal from the vendor stands at their local festivals. Eating grilled spears of asparagus cooked by the same Bavarian man who grew it was one of the memories I treasure from our time in Europe. It taught me that this was a much different taste than the canned mush I knew from childhood and worth the extra effort to prepare fresh.

 
 How to prepare asparagus
 

There are plenty of reasons to love these elegant veggies. They are packed with vitamins and fiber, taste delicious, are beautiful plated, and lend a unique taste to every dish they’re added to.

What I love best is how versatile asparagus is. Boil it, steam it, sauté it, roast it, grill it – it’s all good. Take the #IDfoodchallenge and share your favorite way to enjoy the ‘gus.

Roasted Asparagus

via Barefoot Contessa

Before I saw Ina Garten’s technique, I had only boiled or steamed asparagus. When I tried this version, I couldn’t believe the richness of flavor roasting lends to these tender spears. I prefer to take them out of the oven about halfway for a crisper spear.  There are so many possibilities for seasonings that you could use the same base recipe and make a different dish every time. I like to squeeze lemon juice over the top right before I serve them. Delicious!

Stacked Caprese Salad with Asparagus

via Rem Cooks

I found this beautiful stack on a Pinterest search and my interest was instantly piqued. Better yet, I had all of the ingredients as I planned on having a traditional mozzarella caprese salad for dinner that night. The addition of the asparagus was an excellent blend of the two flavors and was particularly lovely for a fancier dinner during our date night in.

Cherry Tomato Asparagus Salad

via Sunset Magazine

This gorgeous chopped salad was exceptionally easy. I halved this recipe to enjoy leftover roasted asparagus and the fresh heirloom mini tomatoes for a quick lunch. I skipped adding the gorgonzola and didn’t miss it. The olive oil made it rich enough without the extra dairy.