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My grand darlings, all six of them, are coming to visit next week. My husband and I have worked meticulously on a fun (and very flexible!) itinerary and cannot wait to make some more memories with them. One of the reasons we moved out to Oregon was to lure their families into coming to visit us on a regular basis. It has worked so far! And how could it not? Oregon is such a beautiful place with so many fun things to do.
But what I learned last year, is that a few of these delightful little cubs aren’t very enthusiastic about any cuisine beyond macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. I know, I was as shocked as you are now. I’m sure some of you are smiling to yourself, thinking how your grandchildren have eaten braised leeks and roasted Brussel sprouts since they were 6 months old. That’s very impressive. Give their parents a pat on the back.
While I (quietly) worry about the kids not eating enough vegetables, I remember myself as a child. Crying over carrots. Begging my mom not to make me eat broccoli. I was that kid. So now we know where my grand-darlings get it.
The good news is that (almost) everyone grows up to enjoy vegetables and fresh food. It just takes a while (and maybe a little bribery) to grow their palates. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized just how important fresh foods are to my energy levels and my weight (thank you, Weight Watchers). I’ve also realized how much I love them, especially when they are prepared perfectly!
Food for Grownups and the Best Asparagus Recipe Ever
So where does this asparagus recipe come in? I’m enjoying it this week. Before the pitter patter of little palates comes storming my home. It’s food for grownups. And I’m going to enjoy every bite without overhearing some darling child loudly proclaiming “EWWWW” or making gagging noises.
Perfect for spring or summer, this is the best asparagus recipe ever because it can double as a side dish or an appetizer. Spread the feta whip on a crostini and top with asparagus or simply enjoy the feta and asparagus with a few toasty breadcrumbs. It would be a beautiful dish for Mother’s Day, a greater starter to snack on while you grill for Father’s Day, a beautiful Easter side, or the perfect pairing to accompany delicious Chardonnay on your front porch with your neighbors.
The lemon zest, garlic and sesame give the asparagus a fresh, aromatic character that really brings out the natural flavor of the shoots. The pan sauce made from the apple cider vinegar and honey brings out a little sweetness. The feta spread is salty and creamy and wonderful. The toasty bread or bread crumbs, depending on which route you take, give it a little carby, crunchy goodness that we all love.
Trust me, you will love this. Maybe even grandkids will love this. Who knows!
Here’s the best asparagus recipe on the internet, the ultimate food for grownups. Enjoy!
This dish can be served as an appetizer by using toast points – I like to brush ciabatta with olive oil and roast in oven for a few minutes until toasty brown. If you would rather it serve as a side dish, simply crumble up a few breadcrumbs on top for a little crunch. So there are your two options: toast points slathered with feta spread and topped with asparagus, or asparagus with a dollop of feta spread and toasty breadcrumbs on top for a little crunch. Choose your adventure!
1 cup homemade, coarse breadcrumbs or 10 small slices of toasted ciabatta or some other fresh bread
3 TBS olive oil, divided
1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped*
2 TBS raw sesame seeds (I find these in the Asian aisle at my local grocery store)
zest of 1 lemon (you’ll need a rasp like this one)
3 cloves garlic, minced (I use my garlic press to do this quickly)
kosher salt and black pepper
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1 tsp local honey
8 oz reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt
1 TB olive oil
1 TB water (for desired consistency)
*Instead of just trimming the ends of the asparagus, snap the shoot by bending on the end until it breaks. It will break right at the perfect point for tender, delicate shoots. That’s how you know.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Make the toasty breadcrumbs or toast points. On a baking sheet, toss the bread or breadcrumbs with 1 TB olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Toast for 10 minutes or until golden and toasty.
In a casserole dish, toss the asparagus, sesame seeds, garlic, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper with 2 TBS olive oil. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the asparagus has a little charred color. Remove from oven and use tongs or a fork to set asparagus on serving platter, leaving all the juices in the casserole dish.
Once the oils and juices in the casserole dish have cooled for a couple minutes, add the apple cider vinegar and honey. Scrape the bottom of the dish to get all of the extra flavor. This is going to be the sauce, sort of like a vinaigrette.
To make the feta spread, add the feta, greek yogurt, 1 TB olive oil, and about 1 TB of water into the bowl of your food processor and process for about 3 minutes, or until creamy and light. Season with pepper. You won’t need any more salt for this step, trust me.
Now it’s time to serve! Spread the feta on a large serving plate, place the asparagus on top, drizzle on the sauce, sprinkle with breadcrumbs or serve with toast points. I like this best slightly warm or at room temperature.
- Category: appetizer, vegetable side dish
Keywords: asparagus, healthy sides, spring appetizers, summer appetizers, asparagus recipes, weight watchers