Looking for a silver lining to the the cool and rainy late spring we’ve had? Start in the asparagus patch. While some gardeners have been stymied by saturated, muddy garden beds, anyone with a bed of asparagus has had a nice, long season for this cool-weather-loving perennial.

Asparagus is just one of the delicious and nutritious greens that should be part of every day’s meals. Eat it often while it’s in season; lightly steam it, then add a drizzle of olive oil, fresh ground pepper and lemon salt. Or you can dress it up even further with this tangy marinade:

Chilled Asparagus with Mustard Herb Vinaigrette

Makes 8 servings.

2 pounds asparagus

Mustard Herb Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon chopped flat leaf parsley

1/2 teaspoon chopped tarragon leaves

Salt and pepper as needed

Dash of onion powder

Dash of garlic powder

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

— Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.

Trim the asparagus to remove the white, fibrous ends. Cut the asparagus into 2-inch pieces on the diagonal.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook until the spears are bright green and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. (If necessary, cook the asparagus in batches.) Remove from water and place in refrigerator to chill or drain the asparagus in a colander and rinse with cold water until the asparagus is chilled. The asparagus is ready to dress and serve now, or it can be held in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 6 hours.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, parsley, tarragon, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder until blended. Add the oil to the vinegar mixture in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Toss the chilled asparagus with the vinaigrette or pass it separately on the side. Serve immediately on a chilled platter or plates.

— Per 4.5-ounce serving: 90 calories; 3g protein; 5g carbohydrates; 2g fiber; 7g total fat; 1g saturated fat; 180mg sodium.

(Culinary Institute of America)

Don’t have an asparagus patch? Get your green on with broccoli, which has a place in nearly every “top 10 healthiest foods” list.

Broccoli with Bacon and Toasted Almonds

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Serves: 6

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarse ground

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 slices bacon, chopped

8 cups broccoli florets (about 1 pound), cooked

2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

2 tablespoons freshly shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese

Mix Italian seasoning, pepper, garlic powder and salt in small bowl; set aside.

Cook bacon in large skillet on medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with slotted spoon; set aside. Add cooked broccoli to skillet. Cook and stir until heated through.

Sprinkle with seasoning mixture, bacon and almonds; toss to mix well. Top with Parmesan cheese. (Use a swivel peeler to shave a wedge of Parmesan cheese into thin curls over the broccoli.) Serve immediately.

Per serving: 107 calories, 254 mg sodium, 7 g fat, 6 g carbohydrates, 9 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 3 g fiber.

People who don’t like brussels sprouts haven’t had them properly prepared. With a sweet and sour dressing, the little morsels are yummy.

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans and Ginger Honey Sauce

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Serves: 6

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon ginger, ground

2 containers (10 ounces each) Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup pecan, halves or pieces, toasted

Mix honey, orange juice, soy sauce and ginger in small bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Set aside.

Place Brussels sprouts in large skillet. Add 1 inch of water; bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until tender-crisp. Drain.

Melt butter in same skillet on medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts, salt and honey mixture; toss gently. Cook until heated through. Sprinkle with pecans before serving.

To toast pecans: Place pecans in single layer on baking sheet. Bake in 350-degree oven 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.

Per serving: 175 calories; 400 mg sodium, 11 g fat, 15 g carbohydrates, 10 mg cholesterol, 4 g protein, 4 g fiber.

(Two previous recipes courtesy McCormick Foods)

Reach Karen Herzog at 701-250-8267 or karen.herzog@bismarcktribune.com.

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