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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
Pesto Pasta Salad

Asparagus: A Spring Delicacy

I'm pleased to introduce guest blogger and Illinois State University student, Paige Meints!

During this time of year, asparagus is everywhere! You may notice it being on sale at the grocery store, or it may even be popping up in your own garden at home. Asparagus is a spring crop that is easy to grow and very cheap in the spring, which may leave you with a surplus of the vegetable in your kitchen! It can easily be stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp paper towel or in an upright container (like a mason jar) in an inch of water for up to three days before use.

Asparagus has a bad reputation for making urine have a pungent smell. The odor is completely normal and is caused by a chemical component that is created when our bodies break down the vegetable's sulfurous amino acids. Although this may be considered downfall of eating asparagus, the benefits of this spring delicacy certainly outweigh this temporary con!

Asparagus is packed full of nutrients and very low in calories. It can be prepared in a variety of ways like being blanched and chopped into salads, oven-roasted with some olive oil and seasonings, grilled, added to your favorite stir-fry, or even pickled! This veggie's versatility makes it a great side dish for your weekend barbeque!


Pesto Pasta with Asparagus (Printable PDF)

1 lb. asparagus (2 cups chopped into 1-inch pieces)

8 oz. whole wheat rotini pasta

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic powder

Pepper to taste

½ cup basil pesto

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, julienne cut

1/3 cup feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 F. Wash asparagus and trim off hard ends. While oven is preheating, bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Boil the pasta until tender. Rinse pasta with cool water, drain well and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, garlic powder, and pepper. Drizzle mixture over asparagus and toss to coat evenly. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 8-12 minutes or until tender. Once asparagus is roasted and cooled, cut into one-inch bite-size pieces.

Place tomatoes in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with water and heat for 1-2 minutes until rehydrated. In a large bowl, combine pasta, asparagus, pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese. Serve warm or cold.

Yield: 9 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 190 calories, 9 grams fat, 235 milligrams sodium, 21 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 7 grams protein

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