It can be difficult for me to understand when someone says that they don’t like vegetables. Some of my favorite foods are vegetables! But then I hear about the overcooked, mushy veggies they associate with vegetable time, and I can understand their distaste. Who would want to eat something that’s been left in the pot for 10 minutes too long or has no flavor?
To remedy this, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. The first is to take these people to a local farmer’s market. It’s a gorgeous way of seeing all of that season’s bounty ready to be gobbled up. All the colors, varieties and imperfections that this produce has is so much more vibrant than at the local supermarket, and my companions are usually intrigued to try something.
The next is to make a delicious vegetarian dish that deserves its place as the main — no meat allowed here. This Baked Asparagus dish is one of those.
Best Way to Cook Asparagus?
There are various ways you can cook asparagus, like sautéing in a pan or boiling. But I find those can be difficult for asparagus lovers-in-training. Sautéing can take longer than expected or leave asparagus too crunchy for the taste of some, while boiling always runs the risk of overcooking, plus an ice bath is required afterwards to keep the vegetable from cooking even after it’s been removed from the pot.
For most dishes, my preferred way of cooking asparagus is to bake it. Not only is this easy, but the cleanup is minimal, and we could all use less dishes to wash after dinner. Because none of the flavor is lost to water, roasting also ensures you get an intense asparagus flavor.
When you eat asparagus, though, you get more than just a great-tasting vegetable. Asparagus nutrition is pretty impressive: about five spears have no fat and only 20 calories, but they’re packed with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help prevent disease.
One serving of asparagus has nearly double your daily allowance of vitamin K, which helps blood clot properly and increases bone strength, and a ton of vitamin C.
Asparagus also helps feed good bacteria in our digestive tract, which allows for better nutrient absorption and a lower risk of allergies. Women who are pregnant should also chow down on asparagus; it’s loaded with folate, which helps promote a healthy pregnancy. In fact, folate is one of the main ingredients in pre-natal vitamins.
And finally, if you find things aren’t moving through your body as quickly as you’d like, adding asparagus can help. It’s chock-full of fiber, which helps food move more quickly and easily through the gut.
Yes, asparagus is a pretty neat food!
How to Bake Asparagus
Now that I’ve sold you on it, let’s make this baked asparagus! We’ll start by preheating the oven and whisking together the dressing ingredients. I love using coconut aminos as a soy-free alternative to soy sauce. This dressing is super simple to make; try it on your favorite salad! Add salt and pepper to taste here.
Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the asparagus on it. Drizzle the spears with avocado oil, then add the salt, pepper and onions, mixing it all up until well combined. If you haven’t tried avocado oil, I highly recommend it. It’s full of nutritious benefits and is great for when you’re cooking at a high temperature and extra virgin olive oil won’t do.
Next, place the portobello mushrooms on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Portobellos are nice and hearty, and are an excellent way to get a meat-like texture in vegetarian meals.
Place both of the baking sheets in the oven and bake for 10–15 minutes.
When the ‘shrooms and asparagus are done, place the mushrooms face up on a plate. Fill them with the arugula, quinoa, asparagus and onions.
Because we’ve added protein-rich quinoa, this baked asparagus is super hearty. The arugula also adds a nice bite to the flavor.
Drizzle each mushroom and topping with the dressing and serve your baked asparagus.