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Jena DeMoss: Spring and asparagus are here at last!

After a long winter of root vegetables and squash, the bright green spears of asparagus gracing the produce aisle are a welcome sight. Asparagus adds flavor, texture and great nutrition to dishes. Because it’s low in calories and high in filling dietary fiber, adding asparagus as a side dish is a great way to round out a meal. Asparagus contributes several important vitamins and antioxidants. It is a good source of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps the body produce and maintain new cells. Also high in potassium, asparagus is good for maintaining healthy blood pressure.

When choosing asparagus, select spears that are firm with compact closed tips and stem ends that aren’t dry. To store asparagus, keep it clean, cold and covered. Try wrapping a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand spears upright in an inch of cool water before refrigerating. When preparing asparagus, the woody stem ends should be discarded. To determine the usable portion of the spear, simply hold onto the stalk and bend until the stalk breaks. The asparagus above the breaking point is the tender, tasty portion.

One of the best features of asparagus is its quick cooking time. Asparagus lends itself to roasting, steaming and sautéing, though shaved raw asparagus can be utilized in a salad. A perfect complement to grilled chicken, steak or pork is a skillet asparagus sauté. Crisp-tender with a hint of garlic and parmesan, this is a recipe to keep on repeat all season.

Skillet Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan

Serves 4

All you need

• 1 tbsp Hy-Vee Gustare Vita garlic-flavored olive oil, divided

• 1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed

• Hy-Vee sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

• 1 tsp minced garlic

• 2 tbsp fresh shredded Parmesan cheese

All you do

1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus, cover with a lid and cook until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue to cook, stirring often until the spears are fork tender yet still a bit crisp, another 1-2 minutes.

2. Move the spears to one side of the skillet, then add the remaining teaspoon olive oil to the other side of the skillet. 3. Add the minced garlic to the olive oil, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring the garlic constantly. Toss asparagus with the garlic and olive oil. Top with Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe source: Hy-Vee dietitians

The information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.