It's the beginning of asparagus season and with Stockton & Isleton (California's asparagus capitals) just about an hour away, little green stalks are starting to sprout in markets all over the place. One of my local stores recently had asparagus on sale for just $0.97/lb. and because I'm such a huge fan, I couldn't resist buying a few bunches. For me, new asparagus in markets is a clear signal that spring has indeed arrived. And after making due with frozen veggies & fruits all winter long, I am beyond excited to sink my teeth into something fresh & green.
But these are all mild, safe asparagus pairings, and I know that these tender green stalks are capable of so much more. So with the help of some sweet red peppers and a few other ingredients, I created a quick, delicious dish that shows that asparagus can be pretty darned sassy when it wants to be.
Since I'm still pretty noodle-obsessed these days, I've been tossing asparagus & noodles together. A lot. My first Mushroom Channel recipe (featured this week) was actually for Five Spice Mushrooms & Asparagus with Udon Noodles. It was phenomenal. So easy, yet so packed with flavor & different textures that I ended it up having it for dinner three nights in a row last week. The best part about that one was that all three servings came from the same $8 recipe!
With the tender asparagus, bright red peppers, and crisp purple onions, this dish was a fabulous explosion of colors, textures and flavors. It's a wee bit more expensive than the Five Spice Mushrooms & Asparagus recipe, but every bit as delicious. Not a meat eater? Simply omit the steak or swap it out with some tofu or mushrooms and you're good to go.
Spicy Beef, Pepper & Asparagus Udon Noodles (makes 3 servings; total cost per serving: $3)
1 8 oz. package dried udon noodles
10 oz. lean flank steak
1 large red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
2 T cooking oil, divided
1/3 c soy sauce
3 T cooking wine
1 T brown sugar
1 t crushed red chile flakes
1/2 t ground ginger
Salt & pepper
Cook the noodles according to package instructions. Drain, drizzle with a bit of oil to prevent them from sticking together and cover to keep warm. While the noodles are cooking, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Cut the beef along the grain into 2" wide strips. Season with salt & pepper. Heat 1 tablesepoon of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add the garlic. Cook quickly until it just begins to brown, then add the beef. Allow the beef to cook undisturbed for about a minute or so, allowing it to start searing. Then stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes until browned but not completely cooked through. Remove the beef from the skillet & set on a plate.
In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil, then add the onions, peppers, and asparagus. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then return the beef & any accumulated juices to the skillet. Continue to stir-fry for another 1-2 minutes, or until the beef is cooked through but not tough. Add the cooked noodles and sauce, and toss together until completely combined.
Serve immediately either family style or in individual bowls, and enjoy!