When it comes to vegetables, my kids used to never consider even tasty asparagus recipes for dinner. Getting your family to embrace this Clean 15 (fewer pesticides!) vegetable, however, doesn’t require a stealth hand or magic wand. I’ve experimented and found the best asparagus preparations for kids and grownups alike. Here are my family’s top three:
The easiest—and I think tastiest—asparagus recipe is this flavorful Asian inspired dish, which happens to be vegan and gluten-free. You will need:
- 1 1/2 lbs. asparagus spears, washed and trimmed
- 1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
- 1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1 tsp. gluten-free soy sauce
Start by inviting the entire family to get involved. Drag a stool to the counter if needed and let your youngest help wash the asparagus. Ditch the knives and offer kitchen scissors so older kids can cut each strand into 1-inch pieces (under your close supervision, of course).
Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat and add the garlic. Sauté it for about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the sesame seeds into the pan and toast for 2 minutes, or until golden. Next, toss in the asparagus pieces and cover, stirring occasionally. When the asparagus has turned crisp and bright green (after about 5 minutes), add the soy sauce and remove the pan from the heat. Serve with steamed rice.
2. Pastiche Quiche
Of all the original tasty asparagus recipes I’ve inherited, this one is by far the most convenient. Plus, kids just love it. You can start your preparations before bed and then just pop them in the oven the next morning. To get started, you should gather:
- 2/3 cup frozen chopped onion
- 1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper or mini pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and chopped
- 1 cup shredded organic cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup pancake mix
- 1 tsp. real salt
- 6 eggs from local, pasture-raised happy hens
- 1/2 cup organic whole milk
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat—stirring occasionally until the onions are soft—for about 4 minutes. Add the chopped peppers and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Then toss in the asparagus and stir.
While that mixture sizzles (another 3 minutes or so), combine the cheese, pancake mix, and half of the milk in a small mixing bowl. Keep stirring.
Divide this blend among a dozen greased muffin cups and, with clean fingers, pack the mixture down into the bottom of each cup. Spoon the sautéed vegetables into each cup, dividing proportionately.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs together with the salt and remaining milk.
Pour this mixture evenly into each muffin cup to cover the veggies. Lid the muffin tin and refrigerate until morning.
When it’s time to start breakfast, pop the muffin tin into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, checking occasionally. When the egg sets, remove and let cool a few minutes before prying the small quiches from the tin.
These cuties aren’t just convenient because of their make-ahead potential, but also because they’re portable. With a properly insulated bag, you can bring these finger foods anywhere: sports practice, the car between errands, at the playground, or to work as an afternoon snack (it beats the vending machine).
3. Zeus Juice
When I want to give my family the nutrients of fresh, raw, green veggies, I always pull out our juicer. The result? A healthy snack or meal starter my kids gulp down instantly. Fresh juice from fruits and vegetables is naturally sweet, too. This recipe is no-cook, takes only five minutes to whip up, and delivers a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals without any coaxing or whining.
To get started, grab your juicer and the following:
- 1 organic apple
- 2 handfuls fresh, organic spinach
- 6 stalks asparagus
The instructions for this delicious asparagus treat couldn’t be easier. Start by washing all ingredients, breaking off the woody end of each asparagus stalk, and coring your apple. Then feed your ingredients into the juicer’s chute to separate the juice from each item’s pulp. Pour the juice into kid-friendly jars, stir, then serve.
To make this an even sweeter treat, add one carrot and 1/2 cup of pineapple juice. No spinach? Feel free to substitute kale or rainbow chard. To give the juice a bright lift, add a squeeze of lemon or lime. If extra energy during the day is what you’re after, add a shot of powdered wheat grass, and stir for a natural boost.
What are your favorite asparagus recipes for kids and adults alike? Tweet your most appetizing photos to @TomsofMaine.
Image source: Bethany Johnson
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