My kids are from the bizarre species of tiny humans that actually love green vegetables. They get excited about most of them–except asparagus. But I get it; asparagus can taste bitter. I was recently geeking out to America’s Test Kitchen Radio and learned that babies and small children have more bitter taste buds than adults do. So, maybe (maybe) they aren’t shunning certain vegetables just to spite you. But that doesn’t do much to help the fact that I love asparagus and they don’t. What I need are some family-friendly asparagus recipes that the whole gang will want. Here are 6 that I think will do the trick.
I know, I know, I’m kicking off this post with “fries,” but it’s really a misnomer. These Baked Asparagus Fries at Just A Taste (top) are a delicious, fun, and healthy side dish. Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and just a bit of mayonnaise add the right amount of zest and texture to make these “fries” addictive. Be sure to serve them in a cute little dish or cup and it might even make the kids forget they’re eating vegetables. A mom can dream.
You can’t get any simpler—or springlike—than this Pasta with Peas and Asparagus at Heather Christo. Here is why I love it for kids: She cuts the asparagus into tiny rounds that resemble the size of peas. Maybe they won’t even notice! Why didn’t I think of that? This buttery, vegetarian dish would be excellent on its own, but could also go well with grilled shrimp or chicken for an extra dose of protein.
Related: 9 tasty spring pasta recipes that will have your kids asking for seconds. (Ours did.)
Soy Balsamic Chicken Thighs with Asparagus at Beyond Kimchee is the recipe I’m trying this week. It’s packed with sweet, sour, and salty flavors, so if the kids don’t eat it all, I will. Beside the fact that this is bursting with flavor, I also love that you throw everything together in a plastic bag to marinate and then onto a baking sheet (first the chicken, then the asparagus) to cook for just 40 minutes in total. So only one pan to clean. Boom.
Part of the reason I love serving asparagus is because I can toss it with a little olive oil and seasoning and roast until caramelized—all in about 20 minutes. When I came across this recipes for Roasted Asparagus at Mommy of a Monster, I realized that Natalie is on to something. The trifecta of lemon, garlic, and cheese adds just the right amount of flavor to dress up the spears, but is still simple enough for me to get on the table in those 20 minutes. Perfect.
Enlist the kids to help make this Pizza with Asparagus, Ricotta, and Lemon at Foodlets and they may be less likely to complain about eating spring’s favorite spears. This pizza looks fresh, easy, and super adaptable: Charity likes to add prosciutto (yum), but you could keep it vegetarian with roasted red peppers or chopped fresh tomatoes (add at the end of baking). Either way, store-bought pizza dough helps keep this a fun, easy weeknight meal.
The Asparagus Egg Bake at Sweet Potato Chronicles was actually written without the kids in mind, and I won’t tell anyone if you keep it that way. However, if there is a night (I have many) where there’s no protein in the fridge, eggs are your best friend. And most things, even asparagus, covered in soft, creamy eggs and salty cheese are a win. Add some crusty bread and we’re in dinner—or brunch—heaven.