3 simple asparagus dishes

Risotto made from quick cooking barley, asparagus, and Risotto made from quick cooking barley, asparagus, and shiitakes is more nutritious than the classic version. (May 2013) Photo Credit: Marge Perry

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Marge Perry Newsday columnist Marge Perry

Marge Perry, Newsday's weekly 3 Simple columnist, also writes, broadcasts, teaches and speaks about cooking, food and nutrition. ...

TIP Fat or skinny asparagus? Thicker spears are better for grilling and roasting; thinner for stir-frys, steaming and boiling.

BARLEY RISOTTO WITH ASPARAGUS AND SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS

4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1 / 2 pounds asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 1 / 4 cups chopped red onion

1 pound shiitake mushrooms, caps cut into 1 / 4-inch slices (about 8 cups)

1 1 / 2 cups quick-cooking barley

3 / 4 cup white wine

1 cup grated Parmesan (about 3 ounces)

1 / 4 teaspoon salt

1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; immediately reduce heat to low and cover.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a soup pot over medium high; add asparagus and cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and slightly tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the pot; add onion and cook, stirring, until translucent and softened, about 3 minutes. Add shiitake and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in barley and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook until there is no liquid in the pan, about 2 minutes.

4. Add 1 / 2 cup of hot broth to the pot and cook, stirring, until fully absorbed, about 2 minutes. Repeat, adding 1 / 2 cup of broth at a time and allowing it to be fully absorbed before the next addition. (It takes longer to absorb as you near the end of the broth). When no broth remains and barley is tender, remove from heat and stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Makes 6 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 310 calories, 14 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 7 g fiber, 10 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 358 mg sodium

 

CREAMY ASPARAGUS SOUP

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1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 1 / 2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

2 tablespoons flour

1 / 4 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch ground nutmeg

2 1 / 2 cups skim milk

1 / 2 cup half and half

1 / 2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 / 2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium high; add garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add asparagus and broth, bring to a boil and immediately reduce to simmer; cover and simmer until asparagus is very tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer to blender and puree.

2. Place flour, thyme and nutmeg in a soup pot and slowly whisk in the milk over medium heat. Add half and half and puree, and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Stir in lemon zest and salt; serve hot or cold. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 164 calories, 12 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 420 mg sodium

 

FETTUCCINE WITH ASPARAGUS, PEAS AND MINT

8 ounces fettuccine

1 cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths

2 cups thinly sliced onion

6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 / 2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

1 / 4 cup mint leaves, chopped

1 / 2 teaspoon salt

1 / 4 teaspoon black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. In the last 4 minutes of cooking, add peas. Scoop out and reserve 1 / 2 cup cooking water; drain.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium high. Add asparagus and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the skillet; add onion and garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, until onion is golden and soft, 10 to 11 minutes. Add asparagus to skillet and remove from heat.

4. Toss vegetables with pasta. Melt butter in the (now empty) skillet; add lemon rind, juice and reserved pasta cooking water and immediately toss with pasta; stir in cheese, mint, salt and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional analysis for each serving 448 calories, 19 g protein, 62 g carbohydrates, 8 g fiber, 15 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 555 mg sodium

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