This spring, serve roasted asparagus as a side, accompanying lamb or salmon.

Or combine it with a protein like chicken, other veggies, and grains such as orzo or penne pasta, farro or quinoa to make a hearty bowl such as the Springtime Asparagus, Arugula, and Chicken Bowl described below.

Here, Jamie Callison, executive chef at Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management at Carson College, and his co-author of The Crimson Spoon, Linda Burner Augustine (’83 Home Econ., Honors), share recipes spotlighting this quintessential spring ingredient. So does Betsy Rogers (’89 Comm.), who owns and operates Ovens to Betsy, a personal chef business in Seattle.

Asparagus stalks roasted with pepperPhoto detail E.J. Armstrong

Roasted Asparagus

from The Crimson Spoon by Jamie Callison with Linda Burner Augustine, WSU Press, 2013

1 pound asparagus

2 teaspoons olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bend an asparagus spear until it snaps at its natural breaking point. Cut the other spears to the same length. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle asparagus with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast until lightly browned and just tender.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: Callison suggests a teaspoon of lemon zest, too. And, halfway through the roasting process, he also likes to sometimes add Cougar Gold of Parmigiano Reggiano.


Asparagus Cougar Gold Cheese Soup

by Jamie Callison

4 tablespoons butter

1 cup leeks, white part only, finely diced

½ cup celery, diced small

2 cups asparagus ends, chopped fine

2 teaspoons garlic, peeled minced

¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 ½ cups hot chicken stock

2 cups asparagus tops

½ cup heavy cream

8 ounces Cougar Gold Cheese, shredded

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Melt butter over medium-low heat in a sauce pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Make sure the pan isn’t too hot; you don’t want to brown anything.

Add leeks, celery, and chopped asparagus ends. Sweat out vegetables until they are tender and start to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add flour and cook for 2 minutes without browning. Add chicken stock while stirring to work out lumps. Bring mixture to the boiling point while stirring, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes until vegetables are tender.

While soup is cooking, blanch asparagus tops in boiling salted water for about 1 minute, then cool in an ice bath. Don’t discard water. Cut asparagus tops into about ½-inch length pieces and set aside. Make sure that they are not too big to fit onto a spoon.

When the soup is done cooking, blend the mixture in a blender until smooth. Add cream and cheese, and blend until smooth.

Just prior to service, reheat the blanched asparagus tops in the blanching liquid, dry on a clean towel, and lightly season with kosher salt. Add two-thirds of the asparagus tops to the soup. Season, and garnish servings with remaining asparagus tops.

Yield: 6 cups

Servings: 4

Notes: Try substituting Cougar Gold Cheese with WSU Creamery’s Cracked Pepper and Chive cheese and maybe a little Crimson Fire! cheese. You can also substitute medium cheddar and some pepper jack cheese. Callison also recommends serving the soup in hot bowls.


  • Sweat: Sauté on low heat without browning.
  • Blanch: Parcook in boiling salted water, then quickly cool down in an ice bath.


Photo Linda Burner Augustine

30-Minute Asparagus Chicken Skillet

by Linda Burner Augustine from her website A Year at the Table

If you’ve always considered asparagus a side dish, here is your chance to try it a different way – cut into short rods and used as a main ingredient along with bite size slices of chicken breast. Ground chicken can also be used for a shortcut to get it on the table faster. Using a large skillet (or a wok, if you have one) makes the cooking process faster as there is more hot surface area for the ingredients to touch and cook. The four-ingredient sauce made with a base of soy sauce and hoisin sauce and brightened with the distinct flavors of orange zest and sesame oil can be made ahead to save time. And the handful of crunchy peanuts and refreshing cilantro leaves stirred in at the end will seal the deal for this one to be in your regular meal rotation. For a more substantial meal serve it over cooked farro, rice, or quinoa.

For the sauce

3 tablespoons soy sauce

3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 teaspoon orange zest

Whisk together all ingredients.

For the skillet

1–2 tablespoons olive oil

12–16 ounces chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces (ground chicken breast can be substituted)

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1 tablespoon sliced or chopped ginger

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (see note for trimming asparagus)

1 cup sliced celery (about 3 stalks)

⅓ cup unsalted or salted peanuts

½ cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet or wok. Add chicken, spreading around in a single layer covering as much of the pan as possible. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cook several minutes to get good browning before stirring. Add ginger and stir and cook with chicken a few minutes until chicken is cooked through. Add asparagus and cook and stir until just “crisp-tender,” about 3-4 minutes. Add celery and cook and stir just to soften 1 to 2 minutes. Add sauce, and stir to coat all ingredients, cooking 1 to 2 minutes. Add peanuts and cilantro and stir to evenly mix. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Notes: To trim the asparagus, I prefer to hold one stalk and bend it until it naturally breaks as this is the place where tough meets tender. Then line all the other stalks up and trim them to this same place with a knife.

Yield: 3 to 4 servings (depending on how hungry you are)


Photo Linda Burner Augustine

Springtime Asparagus, Arugula, and Chicken Bowl

by Linda Burner Augustine from her website A Year at the Table

For me, fresh seasonal asparagus is always a welcome sight in the produce section after the winter months of root vegetables and hearty greens. Bite-sized pieces of chicken breast and tender cut stalks of asparagus are the basis of the bowl with your choice of quinoa or farro to give a bit of heartiness. Peppery arugula stirred in at the end, along with Pecorino cheese and lemon zest, slightly wilts and adds a lightness to both the texture and flavor.

To speed preparation, start cooking the quinoa or farro, then move on to cutting the vegetables and chicken. Once your skillet is heated, the cooking goes quickly and the quinoa should be ready just in time to stir it in at the end. The little bit of roasted pine nuts sprinkled throughout give just the right amount of crunch and pine flavor. Pine nuts are expensive due to the labor-intensive process of removing the nuts from the inside of the pinecone and not every grocery store carries them. I tend to buy small amounts and store them in the freezer in an airtight container (because of their fat content, they can turn rancid stored at room temperature) so I have them on hand when I need them. True for most nuts, roasting them brings out their flavor.

1½ pounds asparagus>/p>

¾ cup quinoa, or 1 cup farro

⅓ cup olive oil

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in bite-sized pieces

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped shallot or green onion

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

5 ounces arugula

2 teaspoons lemon zest

¾ cup grated Pecorino cheese

⅓ cup roasted pine nuts (see below for roasting)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Trim ends from the asparagus (I do this by taking one stalk and bending it to see where it naturally breaks and then trim the rest the same). Cut asparagus into approximately 1½-inch pieces.

For the quinoa, rinse then combine with 1½ cups water and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook just until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked, 15-20 minutes (makes about 2¼ cups). Or, for the farro, rinse then combine with 3 cups water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook just until farro is softened but still has a little crunch, about 25 minutes; drain (makes about 2 cups).

While the quinoa or farro is cooking, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook without turning until lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add asparagus and cook and stir until chicken is cooked through and asparagus is softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add shallots or green onion and garlic and cook and stir just to soften and release flavor, about 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa or farro, arugula, and lemon zest, tossing lightly and cooking just until leaves are slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Add Pecorino cheese and pine nuts and toss to evenly combine. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with lemon juice.

Notes: To roast pine nuts, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put pine nuts on a baking sheet and roast just until light brown, about 8 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings


Photo Linda Burner Augustine

Roasted Asparagus Orzo

by Linda Burner Augustine from her website A Year at the Table

There’s nothing like roasting asparagus to bring out its flavor with a little natural sugar caramelization. The white beans add more substance taking the place of meat and the Pecorino cheese and roasted Marcona almonds add just the right amount of richness and sharpness. It’s a meal in one—my favorite kind.

1½ pounds asparagus

2 tablespoons, plus ⅓ cup olive oil

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot or green onion

2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic (2 medium cloves)

1½ cups (15-ounce can, drained) cooked cannellini or Great Northern white beans

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1¼ cups orzo

⅓ cup (2 ounces) Marcona almonds

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Trim ends from asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and transfer to a baking sheet; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast just until crisp-tender, and lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes.

In a skillet over low to medium heat, cook shallots and garlic in remaining ⅓ cup olive oil just to soften and release flavor, but do not brown, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in beans and lemon zest and turn off heat.

Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions; drain, and immediately stir into the beans in the skillet. Turn on heat and cook just to heat through, about 3 minutes.

Season orzo with salt and pepper, then stir in asparagus, almonds, Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, and optional red pepper flakes.

Yield: 4 servings


Photo Linda Burner Augustine

Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

by Linda Burner Augustine from her website A Year at the Table

As much as I love to cook, I look for easy ways to make dinner quickly during the week with a recipe that does everything in one dish—protein, vegetable, and starch. Highlighting the season’s fresh asparagus, this pasta recipe does it all in one. Long shreds of Parmesan cheese you can make by taking a vegetable peeler give a “bigger” taste of Parmesan. The fresh taste of lemon zest and a little bit of spice from the red pepper flakes livens up the tasty but dependable flavor of the chicken and asparagus.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon butter

12 ounces chicken breast, sliced into bite-size pieces

Kosher salt

Fresh ground black pepper

1 pound asparagus, end trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons minced garlic

½ cup chicken broth

⅓-½ cup whipping cream

1 teaspoon lemon zest

⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes

8 ounces penne or other shaped pasta

½ cup long shreds Parmesan cheese* (grated Parmesan can be substituted)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil and the butter over medium heat in skillet pan; add chicken; sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook and stir until cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Push chicken to one side of the pan and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil; add asparagus, and cook and stir just until tender, but still crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes, adding garlic during last minute of cooking.

Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer; cook until reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add cream and bring to a simmer; cook until heated through and reduced slightly, about 2 minutes. Add lemon zest and red pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions; drain. Toss pasta with asparagus and chicken sauce and Parmesan shreds.

Notes: Use a vegetable peeler to make the long shreds of Parmesan.

Yield: 4 servings


Betsy Rogers (Courtesy Ovens to Betsy)

Asiago- and Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken

by Betsy Rogers of Ovens to Betsy

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 tablespoons fresh parsley

1/3 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

16 asparagus spears

½ cup flour

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons garlic powder

8 6-ounce chicken breasts

8 ounces Asiago cheese, cut into 8 strips

2 eggs, whisked with 1 tablespoon of water

Mix panko bread crumbs with olive oil until thoroughly coated. Toast in a skillet on medium heat until golden brown. Cool and mix with parsley and Parmesan.

Blanch and refresh asparagus, dry with a paper towel and cut in half. Mix flour with oregano and garlic powder.

Cut a slit into each chicken breast to form a pocket.  Insert a strip of Asiago and 2 asparagus spears (4 halves) into each pocket.

Dip the stuffed breast into the flour mixture, then egg bath, then the panko mix. Place on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake chicken for 25 to 35 minutes, or until it is no longer pink inside.

Yield: 8 servings


Provençal Asparagus

by Betsy Rogers of Ovens to Betsy

2 pounds asparagus, trimmed

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tomatoes, sliced

Blanch and refresh asparagus. Drain on paper towels and dry thoroughly. Clarify and brown the butter. Combine bread crumbs, parsley, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Brush a bit of butter in a 9-by-13-inch, oven-proof baking dish and arrange spears on the bottom. Place tomato slices on top and sprinkle bread-crumb mixture over all. Drizzle with browned butter.

Preheat broiler to medium-high. Place pan 6 to 7 inches under heating element and broil for 5 to 6 minutes, or until bread crumbs are golden brown and asparagus is heated through.

Yield: 4 servings

On the web

In Season: Asparagus (Spring 2022)

Linda Burner Augustine’s asparagus recipes on A Year at the Table

Asparagus articles in the Spokesman-Review

Washington Asparagus Commission

The Haws Harvester, a type of mechanized harvester for asparagus

WSU research on asparagus:
Mechanical harvesting of asparagus
Asparagus production technologies
Asparagus trials
The economics of asparagus farming

Make an ancient Roman asparagus omelet 

Order The Crimson Spoon from WSU Press

From the archives

A simple springtime asparagus and morels recipe