Spring vegetables are already appearing. One of my favorite spring vegetables is asparagus. This is such a flavorful vegetable that you can simply season with salt and pepper, broil for a couple of minutes, and it’s ready to serve as a side dish. Save some for a salad topping the next day too!

Asparagus grows out of the ground in a spear. The fleshy spears are both succulent and tender. The tips are more tender while the bottom half requires a little more cooking time so that it is not so fibrous. Most recipes will call for you to snap the asparagus and only eat the top half. If you are into not wasting food, but don’t want to eat the woodsy bottom half of the asparagus, save it and use it when making a stock.

Asparagus is known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits. It is chock full of vitamins K, B1, B2, C and E, so definitely add it to your veggie choices.

Looking for new ways to prepare it? April’s edition of Cooking Light magazine offers four broiled asparagus side dishes (and they have at least seventy recipes on their website for more inspiration!). All of these recipes start with a pound of asparagus spears (trimmed) and cooking spray or olive oil. The first step in preparation is to preheat the broiler on high, placing a rack about 4 inches from heating element. Arrange asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat with cooking spray or olive oil. Then follow the steps below!

Asparagus With Garlic and Balsamic Reduction

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Broil prepared asparagus 10 minutes or until tender and charred, stirring halfway through cooking.
  2. Combine garlic and oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook 3 minutes; remove from pan.
  3. Add vinegar to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until syrupy, stirring frequently.
  4. Drizzle vinegar over asparagus.
  5. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic.

Asparagus with Lemon-Parmesan Breadcrumbs

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup panko
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon melted unsalted butter

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients from panko through salt in a bowl. Sprinkle over asparagus.
  2. Broil for 2 minutes and then drizzle lemon juice and butter over the spears.

Asparagus with Sesame and Citrus Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange juice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Broil prepared asparagus 10 minutes or until tender.
  2. Drizzle evenly the remaining ingredients.
  3. Toss with segments from 1 navel orange and 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds.

Asparagus with Bacon and Shallots

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Directions

  1. Cook bacon in pan over medium heat until crispy. Crumble when cooled.
  2. Cook the shallots in same pan for 30 seconds.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and cook 1 minute.
  4. Drizzle over asparagus.
  5. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and the crumbled bacon over asparagus.

I am so excited for this time of year because it means fresh fruits and veggies are on the way!