Friday, December 14, 2007

Easy, Fast, Delicious Asparagus

This is one of my favorite side dishes for any meal. It's so quick - literally 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes or less of cooking. Also, asparagus is packed with nutrients. Cooking Light says, "Eating this tender veggie is an excellent way to help protect yourself against heart disease, as it contains lots of folate, as well vitamins E, A, and C. In addition to helping your heart, folate (a B vitamin) helps cells regenerate; vitamin E fights Type II diabetes; and vitamins A and C help hold cancer and cataracts at bay. Asparagus also contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and perhaps even cholesterol."

My favorite thing about this recipe is I always have the ingredients on hand. These are pretty typical items found in everyone's pantry. When you're picking out the asparagus, pick spears that are thin. They will also cook more easily if they are around the same size.

Brown Butter & Balsamic Asparagus

4 pounds fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 teaspoons lite soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preparation: Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Arrange asparagus evenly on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake asparagus at 400° for 15 minutes or just until tender. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until butter is lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

  • I made this dish last night with a side of squash souffle. The mix of the sweetness of the souffle and saltiness of the soy/balsamic dressing was out of this world. We were literally licking our plates. So, I would suggest making an entree with this side dish that has a sweet flavor, like a beef or chicken dish with a honey-based marinade.
  • I added another layer of flavor to this dish by sprinkling some zest of lemon peel before serving. I have been using so many lemons, oranges and limes for zests recently that I can't keep up with the extra fruit I have lying around. So instead of wasting them, I decided to experiment with two additions to my spice rack: McCormick's Grated Valencia Orange Peels and Grated California Lemon Peels. I'm sure that fresh produce is always superior, but I'm going to try this for a while and see if it has the desired effects. I'll let you know how it goes.

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