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4 ways to prepare asparagus

There is no denying it — green vegetables are good for you. Arguably, asparagus is the most savory of green vegetables. It contains no fat, no cholesterol and is rich in vitamins. Asparagus is also rumored to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches and even help with PMS symptoms.

At about 20 calories per serving, you can’t go wrong, especially since eating asparagus burns more calories than it contains. This is known as a negative-calorie food and is great for any diet. The quickest and healthiest way to prepare asparagus is to cook it in boiling water for three to five minutes, longer if you have thicker asparagus or like it more tender. Albert Lea magazine set out in the test kitchen to prove that with a little extra time, care and woefully a few more calories; asparagus can be transformed into an elegantly accompaniment to your main dish.

Baked Asparagus with Cracker Crumble

Ingredients

1 pound fresh asparagus (one bunch), ends trimmed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers, finely crumbled

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons butter, softened

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare crumble in small mixing bowl by combining cracker crumbs, butter and parmesan cheese. Stir with fork until blended. Arrange asparagus in 9-by-13-inch baking dish in a single row. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Top with prepared cracker crumble. Bake for 20 minutes.

Roasted Asparagus Pasta Salad

Ingredients

1 pound fresh asparagus (one bunch), ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 pound rotini pasta

Kosher salt and pepper for seasoning

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 minced garlic clove

1 finely sliced shallot

1/4 cup sliced chives

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F. Cook pasta according to directions until al dente. Drain and allow to cool. Place asparagus on sheet pan, toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

Prepare dressing in small bowl by combining, mustard, lemon juice, shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes. Gradually whisk in 4 tablespoons of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl toss pasta, roasted asparagus, chives and dressing.

Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes

Ingredients

1 pound fresh asparagus (one bunch), ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in half

3 tablespoons pine nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus and tomatoes in 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Toss with pine nuts, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and toss with lemon juice and Parmesan cheese.

Sausage Crepes with Asparagus

Ingredients

1 pound fresh asparagus (one bunch)

Prepared crepes (recipe to follow)

1 pound ground pork sausage

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

3 ounces cream cheese, cubed

1/4 teaspoon marjoram

1/4 cup softened butter

1/2 cup sour cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare cream topping by mixing butter and sour cream. Set aside. In a large skillet, brown onion and sausage over medium heat. Drain excess grease. Stir in cream cheese, shredded Monterey Jack cheese and Marjoram.

Place 2 tablespoons of sausage mixture onto the center of a prepared crepe. Top with two asparagus spears. Roll up the crepe. Repeat. Should make about 8, depending on how many asparagus spears are in the bunch.

Arrange sausage rolls in 9-by-13-inch baking dish in a single row. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover and top with prepared cream topping. Bake 5 minutes longer.

Crepes

Ingredients

1 cup flour

Pinch of kosher salt

2 eggs

1/2 cup club soda

3 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons butter for cooking crepes

Directions:

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour and salt. Make a well in the center. Add eggs, milk, club soda and the 3 tablespoons of melted butter into the center of the well. Whisk until combined. Allow batter to sit for at least 30 minutes.

In a small non-stick sauté pan, melt 1/2 teaspoon butter over medium heat. Allow butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Using a paper towel, wipe excess melted butter.

Evenly coat the bottom of buttered pan with 2 ounces of crepe batter, swirling the pan if necessary.

Cook in pan until edges of the crepe begin to pull away and the bottom begins to brown. Turn crepe over and cook other side for 1 minute.

Remove from pan and stack in between parchment paper.