5 Quick Dinner Ideas Starring Asparagus, a Nutrition Expert’s Favorite Spring Veggie
Every week, Well+Good's Prep School series shares your plan for a whole week's worth of healthy dinners—with very minimal prep. This June, we're devoting the month to seasonal produce, focusing on a different starring veggie each week. Here, a nutrition and meal prep expert shares the easy meals she likes to make using asparagus, one of her favorite spring veggies.
If, like a lot of people, you've been living off pantry staples for the last couple months, a meal with fresh produce can be downright delightful. After an endless cooking cycle of burning out your can opener, the produce section (or farmers' market) can seem like a treasure trove of delicious finds.
When nutritional coach, meal prep expert, and The Visual Guide to Easy Meal Prep author Erin Romeo does her produce shopping in the spring and early summer, she likes to fill her canvas tote with one veggie that sometimes flies a little under-the-radar: asparagus. On the surface, it may not seem as easy to use as leafy greens or summer squash, but she finds it extremely versatile. Want proof? For this week's Prep School, Romeo is sharing how she likes to prep her asparagus on Sunday so it's easy to work into a whole week's worth of dinners—that need very little prep otherwise.
As with virtually any meal prep plan, Romeo also recommends getting your protein squared away on Sunday, too. For her, that tends to be chicken. Here, she shares her recipe for a delicious, nutrient-rich roasted asparagus and chicken wrap, which serves the dual purpose of providing dinner for Sunday night while prepping some core foods that can be used for other dinners throughout the week. (In this case, the roasted asparagus, in particular.)
Read ahead to see her dinner ideas so you know what items to buy at the store and don't already have. Her meal ideas for each night are purposely broad enough so that they can can easily be tweaked, based on what items you already have that you want to utilize as well as your own preferred eating style. Keep reading for the Sunday recipe as well as a whole week's worth of meals with asparagus.
Roasted asparagus and chicken wrap
Yields 1 wrap, plus 6 servings of chicken and asparagus—enough to use all week
2 medium sized chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 whole wheat tortilla
1 Tbsp hummus
2 lbs asparagus trimmed and washed (roughly 40 small, 30 standard or 24 large untrimmed spears)
1 small sized sweet potato, washed and sliced into long strips with the skin on
1/4 cup squash, cubed (frozen or fresh)
1/4 cup onion, thinly sliced
1/2 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Optional: 2 tsp feta cheese
To make the veggies:
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Set aside one serving of asparagus (6 small stocks, 5 medium-sized stocks, or 4 large stocks) to use later in the week. Stand the serving of asparagus up in a large mason jar or tall glass with the cut-side down. Pour fresh water into the container until all of the ends are sitting in the water, changing the water every couple days.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the remaining asparagus, sweet potato, squash, one tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, garlic salt, and black pepper.
4. Remove the vegetable mix from the bowl and spread out evenly onto a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 45 minutes.
5. Place the onion and red peppers into the same bowl, toss with remaining dressing, and spread onto another baking tray.
6. Cook the onion and peppers for the last 30 minutes of the asparagus, sweet potato, and squash cooking time.
7. Remove three-fourths of the asparagus from the baking sheet and set aside for it to be used later in the week. Once the set-aside asparagus cools, place it into an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.
8. Reserve half of remaining roast vegetables for your wrap tonight. Store the other half in the refrigerator in a sealed glass container for use later in the week.
To prepare the chicken:
1. Place breasts onto a cutting board. Slice the chicken breasts lengthwise in half and place in a large skillet. Do not overlap chicken pieces.
2. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken in the pan.
3. Cook the chicken over medium-high heat. Flip each chicken breast over once the underside is golden brown, about six minutes per side. To check for doneness, slice through one of the chicken breasts to see that the meat is white and the juices run clear.
4. Remove chicken from the pan and let cool on a clean cutting board.
5. When the chicken has cooled, slice two pieces of the breasts diagonally into strips. Keep two pieces of chicken out for your wrap and store the rest of the chicken strips in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
To assemble the wrap:
1. Lay the tortilla out flat on your countertop.
2. Spread half the quantity of the hummus over each tortilla, leaving a half-inch border around the edges.
3. Top with half of the remaining roasted veggie mix, your set-aside chicken strips, and one teaspoon of cheese.
4. To roll the wrap: Start at the edge closest to you, fold the tortilla up slightly with your thumbs, then fold the sides in with your fingers and continue to tuck and roll to create a burrito-like wrap. Eat this for dinner on Sunday.
How to use your chicken and roasted asparagus in a whole week's worth of dinners:
Monday: Mediterranean chicken and asparagus salad
Use a serving of your leftover chicken and a serving of your leftover roasted asparagus to make a Mediterranean-inspired salad that's bursting with flavor and antioxidants. Besides the chicken and asparagus, add leafy greens and any leftover veggies from meal prepping yesterday to your bowl, along with some feta cheese, which you should already have on hand for making the wrap. You can also make your own healthy salad dressing using a tablespoon of olive oil, tablespoon of red wine vinegar, teaspoon of oregano, salt, and pepper. Simply combine them in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Then, drizzle it on top of your salad.
Tuesday: asparagus and tomato omelet
Chop up a serving of your leftover roasted asparagus for a fiber-rich omelet filling. Tomatoes taste great in omelets too, so if you have any on hand, add a half-cup of chopped tomatoes as well. To make your omelet, crack and whisk two eggs in a small bowl, adding salt and pepper, to taste. Then, pour the mixture on the skillet and swirl until the eggs cover the entire bottom of the skillet. After roughly two minutes, add the chopped asparagus and tomato to one side of the egg mixture. After two more minutes, loosen the omelet from the skillet using a spatula and fold it in half, over the veggies. Cook for two final minutes before plating it and digging in.
Wednesday: chicken crispy breaded asparagus
To make this happy meal, take out three shallow dishes. In one dish, whisk together a half cup of whole wheat flour, teaspoon of garlic, teaspoon of onion powder, and pepper and salt to taste. In a second shallow dish, beat two eggs and season with black pepper. In the third dish, stir together three-fourths cup breadcrumbs and half cup Parmesan.
Using the fresh asparagus you set aside on Sunday, dredge asparagus into the flour mixture, then into the beaten eggs. Lastly, roll in the breadcrumbs and parmesan mix. Arrange asparagus on a foil-lined baking sheet without overcrowding. Cook in the oven at 425°F for 10 minutes, turning once. While the asparagus is in the oven, heat up a leftover serving of chicken in the microwave. Once they're both warm and ready, dinner is served!
Thursday: lemony pasta salad with chicken
This recipe does require prepping some pasta, but that's about as hard as it gets—this meal is still a cinch to put together. After cooking a serving of pasta, remove a ladle full of pasta water and set it aside in a large bowl. Drain the rest of the water using a colander, then rinse the cooked pasta under cold water to cool. Then, transfer the pasta to the bowl with reserved pasta water. Add a serving of leftover chicken (chopped), a serving of leftover roasted asparagus (chopped), a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese, tablespoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss together until combined, and eat.
Friday: asparagus soup
Another way to enjoy the earthy, slightly sweet flavor of asparagus is in a nourishing soup—which only takes a few minutes to make. Simply melt butter in a large pot, add any other chopped veggies you want in your soup (onions taste particularly good in this meal), add garlic, and stir for roughly for minutes. Then, add a serving of chopped leftover asparagus along with two cups of chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Once everything is hot, puree the soup in a blender (or with an immersion blender if you have one) until it's smooth. For a finishing touch, add a little lemon juice and Parmesan cheese and blend for one more minute. Then, pour it into a bowl and enjoy.
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