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Can’t Get Asparagus out of My Mind!

That’s the sum of it: organic asparagus spears are still available so I’m using them every which way, whether as an Asparagus & Sweet Potato Side, in a simple gluten-free Asparagus & Sweet Potato Pasta, or as a topping for Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas & Veggies (recipe coming soon on this blog). And of course, my now famed Asparagus Soup (Sacred & Delicious, page 92, made perfect with Easy Vegetable Soup Stock (Sacred & Delicious, page 90). After all, asparagus is the culinary herald of springtime, and it must be eaten with reverence!

Today’s recipe is the simple Asparagus & Sweet Potato Side. It takes about 25 minutes, tops, to make! And I’ll give you my suggestions for how to bring it together with your favorite pasta.

I have a reason for pairing these particular two vegetables, and it goes beyond deliciousness. I’ve long put asparagus and red bell pepper on top of pasta, both for their shared Mediterranean origins and for their beautiful contrasting colors. Sadly—but importantly!—I decided some months ago to forgo eating all nightshades for the near future… and longer, if necessary. Ayurveda and functional medicine rule these out as inflammatory foods. I now have an inflammatory condition in my hands, brought about when I fractured my wrist last summer. It has not yet resolved, and so I am resolved to follow a more careful diet to help my hands recover fully. Nightshades include very popular foods: tomatoes, white potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, and chilies.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” so they say, and that’s why I started pairing asparagus with sweet potatoes. Fortunately, I’ve found the combination to be yummy, so now I feel no loss at all!

Enjoy this delicious duo, Asparagus & Sweet Potato Side, all spring long!

 

 

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ASPARAGUS & SWEET POTATO SIDE

You can keep this extra simple by cooking the asparagus and sweet potatoes with spices only. Or you can make it more exciting by adding your favorite olives and nuts.

Preparation time: About 25 minutes
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound asparagus
1 extra-large sweet potato
2 to 3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
¾ to 1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ to 1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 tablespoons of Bragg Liquid Aminos, or to taste
12 or more pitted kalamata olives (optional)
¼ cup shelled pistachio nuts (optional)

1. Peel the potato, if you wish. Chop it into small bite-sized cubes. Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Add the ghee or oil to the pan. Once the ghee has melted, add the cubed potatoes, letting them cook for about 5 minutes to sear them on one side. Then reduce the heat to medium, add the spices, stir, and cover the pan.

2. While the potatoes are getting tender (about another 5 minutes), rinse and break the asparagus spears into pieces about 1-inch long. (Use only the tender top two-thirds of the asparagus; offer the rest to Mother Nature.) Add the asparagus pieces to the potatoes, along with Bragg’s. Stir and recover the pan for another 3 to 6 minutes, depending on the size of the spears, until the asparagus is tender.

3. If you wish, chop some olives while the asparagus is cooking, add the olives to the pan to heat through. Toss in a few nuts, if you wish. Serve immediately as a side dish or over pasta.

4. Pasta Option: I suggest adding 3 to 5 ounces of arugula, stirring it into the already cooked sweet potatoes and asparagus for just long enough to wilt the greens—a few seconds. I think pasta begs for a generous amount of fresh basil and garlic, both of which combine well with the flavors of cumin and coriander. (I know that mung pasta is not the prettiest, but I like it for the vegan protein.)

5. Grill Option: If you prefer to grill the vegetables for the side dish, slice the potato into long strips about the width of the asparagus spears. Before grilling, sprinkle the potato strips with oil, cumin, coriander, and salt. (This is instead of Bragg’s.)

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