April is for asparagus

Asparagus is a wonderfully flavorful vegetable packed with tons of good vitamins and minerals in the stalks.

Asparagus can be steamed, pickled, sautés, roasted and grilled. Truly the possibilities are endless!

When buying asparagus, choose stalks that are bright green with purple-shaded tight tips — these are the most tender and tasty.

t is best to cook asparagus soon after buying because asparagus can become tough and woody after several days.

Storing asparagus properly in the refrigerator can help keep it tender if you can’t cook it right away. Place it upright with the cut ends in water or wrapped in wet paper towels and covered with plastic to keep the stalks moist.

Try this new recipe for from the Plate it Up KY Proud Recipe Collection.

Dijon Chicken Asparagus Roll Ups

— 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard

— 1/2 cup low fat mayonnaise

— 1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)

— 2 teaspoons dried thyme

— 2 teaspoons black pepper

— 1/2 teaspoon salt

— 16 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed

— 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each)

— 4 slices skimmed mozzarella cheese

— 1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 11 x 7 baking dish. In a bowl, mix together the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, thyme, salt, and pepper; set aside; Place asparagus in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high 1 to 1-1/2 minutes.

Place chicken breasts in a re-sealable freezer bag and pound the chicken breasts with the smooth side of a meat mallet to thickness of 1/4 inch.

Place one slice of cheese and four asparagus spears on each breast. Tightly roll the chicken breasts around the asparagus and cheese.

Place each, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish.

Apply a coating of the mustard mixture to each chicken breast and sprinkle each with the panko crumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken to secure.

Bake 35 minutes or until the chicken temperature is 165 degrees.

For crispier chicken, place roll-ups under the broiler for 1 to 2 minutes on high.

Yield: 4 servings. Nutritional analysis: 370 calories, 10 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 115 mg cholesterol, 1060 mg sodium, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugars, 41 g protein.

For more information on asparagus or additional asparagus recipes, visit our web page at http://ces.ca.uky.edu/clark or contact us at the Clark County Extension Office at 744-4682.

Jennifer Howard is the Clark County Extension agent for family and consumer sciences.