Amazing asparagus

Elegant veggie that’s simple, easy to prepare, packed with nutrients is a perfect choice for spring

Detroit Free PressMay 15, 2013 

Fresh lemons, olive oil and Dijon mustard. They are the perfect trio to brighten up any dish. Add a little seasoning to enhance things even more. In today’s dish, the trio is paired with roasted chicken thighs and legs, asparagus and sweet mini bell peppers.

You can’t go wrong with any asparagus dish this time of year. My local grocery store has huge displays of this harbinger of spring. Often on sale, it’s not local, however. Michigan-grown asparagus is still weeks out. Most of the asparagus at my store is tagged from Mexico, and soon California asparagus will be in.

Asparagus is simple and easy to prepare. You can roast or steam it and grill or broil it. You can eat it hot or cold and even raw. Go ahead, pick up a spear with your fingers for a tasty snack.

Because asparagus goes with just about anything, I roasted it and mini bell peppers in today’s dish. The mini bell peppers are a favorite because they, too, require little prep work. A 2-pound bag costs about $5.

For this recipe, I roasted the asparagus and the sliced peppers together. The technique I like to use to roast these vegetables is to preheat a sided baking pan that’s drizzled with olive oil before I put the asparagus and peppers in. Doing so gives them a quick little sear and sizzle and both are crisp and tender in about seven minutes.

When it came to the chicken, I decided on thighs for this dish because I picked them up at a good sale price. Chicken thighs have tons of flavor and are a nice change from lean boneless, skinless chicken breast. Yes, the thighs and legs have more fat, especially if you factor in the skin. But you can remove it to shave off some fat and calories.

The chicken thighs I bought were in a family pack that contained about 12 thighs.

Today’s recipe rocks because you can put it together in the morning and let the chicken marinate all day. Pop it into the oven and get asparagus and mini red peppers ready to roast while the chicken is roasting. You can have dinner on the table in less than an hour.

ROASTED LEMON CHICKEN WITH ASPARAGUS AND PEPPERS 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

4 chicken legs with skin

cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

GLAZE

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons Dijon or favorite grainy mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey

Salt and pepper to taste

Asparagus and peppers (see note)

Pat the chicken thighs and legs dry. Remove any excess fat from the chicken thighs. In a glass measuring cup, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Reserve a few tablespoons of this mixture for the asparagus. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl and drizzle the olive oil mixture over, tossing to coat. Refrigerate 2-8 hours.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken pieces in a roasting pan, skin-side down. Roast chicken 25 minutes. Turn chicken skin side-up, brush pieces with glaze and roast 10 more minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from oven and place on a platter; tent with foil.

Pour off as much fat as you can from the roasting pan and set the pan over two burners. Heat, scraping up any bits from the pan. Stir in the remaining glaze and heat through. Pour sauce into a small bowl (there won’t be a lot of it) and serve with the chicken.

Note: To make the asparagus and peppers: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and trim tough ends from 1/2 pound asparagus. Slice 8 small bell peppers into strips. Drizzle a sided baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil and place in the preheated oven for about 5 minutes. Using oven mitts, carefully remove baking sheet from the oven. Add asparagus spears and pepper pieces to the pan; they will sizzle. Place in the oven for 7 minutes or until they are just barely tender. Remove from oven and drizzle with reserved olive oil/lemon mixture or season with salt and pepper.

Chicken only: 399 calories (72 percent from fat), 32 grams fat (6 grams sat. fat), 9 grams carbohydrates, 19 grams protein, 741 mg sodium, 69 mg cholesterol, 0 grams fiber.

Serves: 4 / Preparation time: 10 minutes / Total time: 1 hour From and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen

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