Parmesan-Crusted Asparagus √

Serves 2.

Note: This offers rich, roasted flavor with an ultracrispy, cheesy coating. By poking holes in the asparagus and salting it, the extra moisture in the vegetable is taken out. Avoid pencil-thin asparagus for this recipe. Panko bread crumbs are larger and lighter than traditional dried bread crumbs, which could be substituted. From "Cooking for Two," by the editors of America's Test Kitchen.

• 1 lb. (1/2-in. thick) asparagus, trimmed (see Note)

• Salt and pepper

• 1 1/2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 c.), divided

• 1/3 c. panko bread crumbs (see Note)

• 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

• Pinch cayenne

• 1 egg white

• 1/2 tsp. honey


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Using a fork, poke holes up and down asparagus stalks. Toss asparagus with 1/4 teaspoon salt and let stand for 30 minutes in single layer on large paper towel-lined platter.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup Parmesan, panko, butter, 1/8 teaspoon salt, pinch of pepper and cayenne in bowl. Transfer half of panko mixture to shallow dish and reserve remaining mixture.

Using a handheld electric mixer, whip egg white and honey together on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape egg white mixture into medium baking dish, then gently toss asparagus in mixture, working quickly (or salt will deflate the egg white).

Working with 1 spear at a time, dredge half of asparagus spears in panko and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Refill shallow dish with reserved panko mixture and repeat with remaining asparagus.

Bake asparagus until just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and continue to bake until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes longer. Serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 250 Fat 9 g Sodium 403 mg

Carbohydrates 29 g Saturated fat 5 g Calcium 311 mg

Protein 17 g Cholesterol 22 mg Dietary fiber 5 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 vegetable, 1 bread/starch, 1½ medium-fat meat, ½ fat.


Serves 4.

Note: If you prefer, you can use all chicken thighs or legs in this recipe. From Susan M. Selasky for the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.

• 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (see Note)

• 4 chicken legs with skin (see Note)

• 1/3 c. olive oil

• 1/4 c. lemon juice

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


• 2 tbsp. olive oil

• 1 to 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 2 tbsp. Dijon or favorite grainy mustard

• 2 tbsp. maple syrup or honey

• Salt and pepper to taste


• 1/2 lb. asparagus

• 8 mini bell peppers

• 1 tbsp. olive oil


Pat chicken thighs and legs dry. Remove any excess fat from the chicken thighs. In a glass measuring cup, mix together 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup lemon juice, salt and pepper. Reserve a few tablespoons of this mixture for the asparagus. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil mixture over, tossing to coat. Refrigerate 2 to 8 hours.

In a small bowl, make the glaze: Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken pieces in a roasting pan, skin-side down. Roast chicken 25 minutes. Turn chicken skin side-up, brush pieces with some of the glaze and roast 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and place chicken on a platter; tent with foil.

Pour off as much fat as you can from the roasting pan and set the pan over 2 burners. Heat, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the remaining glaze and heat through. Pour sauce into a small bowl (there won't be a lot of it) and serve with the chicken.

To make the asparagus and peppers: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and trim tough ends from asparagus. Slice peppers into strips. Drizzle a sided baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the asparagus spears and pepper pieces to the pan; they will sizzle. Place in oven for 7 minutes or until barely tender. Remove from oven and drizzle with the reserved olive oil/lemon mixture or simply season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition information per serving of chicken only:

Calories 399 Fat 32 g Sodium 741 mg

Carbohydrates 9 g Saturated fat 6 g Protein 19 g Cholesterol 69 mg Dietary fiber 0 g

Marinated Asparagus Spears √

Serves 4 to 6.

Note: From "Old-School Comfort Food: The Way I Learned to Cook," by Alex Guarnaschelli.

• 1 tbsp. honey

• 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

• 3 tbsp. sesame oil

• 2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce

• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

• Kosher salt

1 lb. asparagus (preferably pencil-thin), ends trimmed, cut into 2-in. pieces

• 1/4 c. sesame seeds, toasted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

To make the dressing: In small pan, heat honey over medium heat until it froths and turns golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully pour vinegar over it. Return to heat and simmer to reduce for an additional minute.

In a bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Season with a pinch of salt. Whisk in honey mixture.

To cook the asparagus: First prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice cubes and adding some cold water. Set a colander squarely inside the ice bath. The colander will keep you from having to pick ice out of the asparagus later.

Add salt to the boiling water until it tastes like seawater. Add the asparagus and cook until bright green but still crunchy, 1 minute for thin spears and 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for medium ones. Use a slotted spoon to remove asparagus from the water and transfer them to the colander inside the ice bath. Move them around gently to accelerate the cooling process. Vegetables take longer than you think to cool, so allow them to sit for a few minutes in the ice water. Hold a piece of asparagus in your hand for a few seconds to assure that it's really cool (even in the center).

Lift up the colander to drain the asparagus and then spread them out on a kitchen towel. If the asparagus are still wet, pat them dry thoroughly with another kitchen towel, or even allow them to air-dry and chill in the refrigerator before adding the dressing.

To finish the salad: Toss the asparagus, sesame seeds and dressing together and refrigerate for an hour or until ready to serve.

Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:

Calories 123 Fat 11 g

Sodium 264 mg Saturated fat 2 g Carbohydrates 6 g Calcium 14 mg

Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 2 fat.

Asparagus Risotto √

Serves 8.

Note: From "Cooking Light Pick Fresh Cookbook."

1 1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-in. slices (about 4 c.), divided

3 c. fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth, divided

• 1 1/2 c. water

• 1 tbsp. butter

2 c. chopped onion (about 1 large)

2 c. uncooked arborio rice or other medium-grain rice

• 1/2 c. dry white wine

4 oz. grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 c.), divided

• 1/4 c. heavy whipping cream

• 1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper


Place 1 cup asparagus and 1 cup broth in a blender; purée until smooth. Combine purée, 2 cups broth and 1 1/2 cups water in medium saucepan; bring to simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, and cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in 3 cups asparagus; cook 2 minutes.

Stir in 3/4 cup cheese, cream, salt and pepper. Transfer risotto to a bowl. Top with remaining cheese.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 310

Fat 8 g

Sodium 750 mg

Carbohydrates 46 g

Saturated fat 5 g

Calcium 226 mg

Protein 12 g

Cholesterol 24 mg

Dietary fiber 3 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 bread/starch, ½ medium-fat meat, 1 fat.

Asparagus and Spinach Frittata √

Serves 8.

From "Mad Hungry Cravings," by Lucinda Scala Quinn. She will sign books April 25 from 5- 6 p.m. at Cooks of Crocus Hill, 877 Grand Av., St. Paul.

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed

• 1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, divided

• 1/2 lemon

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

1 lb. fresh spinach, steamed and chopped, or 1 (10-oz.) pkg. chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

• 10 eggs

• 1 1/2 c. whole milk


1 tbsp. salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped

1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 green onions, finely chopped

• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

• 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

• 1/4 tsp. coarse salt


For the frittata, preheat oven to 375 degrees with a rack in the middle position. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil. When it shimmers, add the asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender and brown in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to plate, squeeze juice of lemon over it, and let cool.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, spinach, pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt and cook until spinach is warmed through, about 1 minute.

Whisk eggs and milk in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Pour into skillet and cook, stirring constantly, just until eggs begin to scramble but are still very wet. Remove from heat.

Distribute asparagus in single layer over eggs, pressing them gently into eggs. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until frittata is set.

To make sauce: Meanwhile, combine capers, parsley, green onions, oil, vinegar and salt in small bowl. Serve with wedges of frittata.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 196 Fat 13 g Sodium 565 mg

Carbohydrates 8 g Saturated fat 4 g Calcium 156 mg

Protein 12 g Cholesterol 240 mg Dietary fiber 2 g

Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 ½ medium-fat meat.

Asparagus, Cheddar and Bacon Quiche √

Serves 4 to 6.

• 1 (9-in.) commercial pie crust

• 1 lb. asparagus

• 1/2 c. water

• Kosher salt

• 6 slices bacon

• 1 tbsp. oil

• 1/2 c. diced onion

• Freshly ground black pepper

• 3 eggs

• 1 c. half and half

• 1 c. shredded Cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line pie shell with foil or parchment paper and weight with 1 cup dried beans or rice, so it won't puff up while pre-baking. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil or paper, beans or rice. Bake 5 minutes more. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, place asparagus in skillet with 1/2 cup water. Bring to boil. Add dash of salt. Cover and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water. Set aside on double layer of paper towel to dry.

Cook bacon over medium-low heat until crisp and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove to double layer of paper towel to drain and cool.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat in skillet. Add 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and stir to coat. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Using scissors, snip bacon into 1/2-inch lengths and add to asparagus.

Whisk eggs until blended. Whisk in half and half. Add dash of salt. Spoon asparagus mixture into pie shell. Cover with cheese. Carefully pour egg mixture over filling.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes until top is puffed and golden. Serve hot or at room temperature.