Spring has arrived, and with the season comes a new crop of fresh produce. In-season vegetables and fruits usually reap the most nutritional value, and asparagus is one of the most delicious and nutrition-packed vegetables of this time of year.
Dubbed the “food of kings” by Louis XIV of France, asparagus are low in fat and high in folic acid, a good source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, B6, and C. These tender stalks are at their peak from March through June but can be purchased year-round. When shopping for asparagus, look for sturdy spears with tight heads; the cut ends should not look dried out, wrinkled or woody. Fresh asparagus should snap when bent. Buy the freshest you can find and plan to use it within a day or two.
Delicious roasted, grilled, or lightly sautéed in olive oil, these seasonal spears make a tasty addition to any meal. The following is a healthy recipe for Creamy Asparagus Pasta. Lemon zest ties all the flavors together in this light and creamy dish.
Makes: 4 servings, 1 1/2 cups each
Active Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
- 8 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
- 4 teaspoons flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Add asparagus and continue cooking until the pasta and asparagus are just tender, 3 minutes more. Drain and return to the pot.
- Meanwhile, whisk milk, mustard, flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant and lightly browned, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in the milk mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tarragon, lemon zest and juice.
- Stir the sauce into the pasta-asparagus mixture. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sauce is thick, creamy and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup Parmesan. Divide the pasta among 4 bowls and top with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan.
Per serving: 359 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 18 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrates; 18 g protein;7 g fiber; 602 mg sodium; 467 mg potassium.
Find more online at: http://greatist.com/health/spring-produce-your-guide-picking-best
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