Panko-Crusted Asparagus Spears

One of spring's best assets are those fleshy green spears called asparagus! Whether wrapped up in a piece of chicken and baked with a delicious creamy cheese or made into your favorite side dish, these little stalks are one of the most popular vegetables out there and for good reason!

Luckily for us, we have just entered into asparagus season, which is generally considered to run for about two months, from April to May, and in some places, like the East and Midwest, through July. Since we don't have a lot of time here, this spring I will dish up as many of my best asparagus dishes as I can for you!

Now, not only is asparagus delicious and versatile in an array of recipes, it's absolutely great for your health! It has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits, it supports digestion, heart health and blood sugar regulation, AND has anti-cancer benefits! ... Ok, so it has been known to make some peoples' urine smell funny because it contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, but it doesn't affect everyone. Thankfully, I am one of those that go unaffected, but even if I didn't, I think it's still too delicious and nutritionally dense to pass up! Call me a health nut!

So here's an asaparagus recipe I made last week that received rave reviews. I have the wonderful people at Eating Well to thank for this wonderful side dish recipe!

Adapted for:

Panko-Crusted Asparagus Spears

Serves 4

Cooking Spray
1/3 cup low fat mayo
2 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (found on your market's Asian aisle)
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound, trimmed)
3/4 cup Japanese-style panko
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil; coat with cooking spray.

Combine mayo, green onions, chile-garlic sauce and oil in a small bowl.

Place asparagus in a shallow dish and toss with half the chile-garlic mixture (about 1/4 cup), making sure the asparagus is well coated.

Combine panko and sesame seeds in another shallow dish. Roll each spear in the panko mixture and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of room between each spear. Coat the prepared spears with cooking spray.

Roast the asparagus until the coating is browned and crispy and the asparagus is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve with the remaining chile-garlic mixture as a dipping sauce.

Serve hot out of the oven!

Cook's Notes: If you need to store asparagus before using, trim the ends and stand the spears upright in about an inch of water. Leave them in a bundle tied together with a rubber band. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Keep Cookin, Good Lookin'!