Spring is here with abundant bouquets of asparagus at grocery stores and farmers' markets. Arrange these beautiful green spears with sweet red bell peppers and lemon marinated pink shrimp sauteed with fragrant garlic for a beautiful, light meal.

Experts recommend eating a mostly plant-based diet rich in colorful vegetables including asparagus. This spring perennial is especially high in vitamin B folate and also provides fiber, vitamin C, beta-carotene and antioxidants glutathione and rutin.

When buying asparagus look for tight flower heads and firm stalks. It is best to eat them one to four days after buying.

Selecting Fresh Asparagus

Wrapping ends of stalks in wet paper towel and placing in loose plastic bag, store asparagus in the refrigerator.

When time to cook, gently bend the bottom end of each spear. Voila, it snaps just above the woody part. Thin asparagus are preferred for this recipe, but thick ones will do - just give them a quick peel with a carrot peeler up to the flower head.

Shrimp is high in protein and low in fat and you may have heard it has a lot of dietary cholesterol. However, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently recommended that we don't need to avoid or limit foods like eggs and shrimp that are high in dietary cholesterol but low in saturated fat. So, there is room for succulent shrimp in a healhty diet. In this dish, asparagus and red pepper are featured as the main ingredients with shrimp as an accent, mirroring the mostly plant-based New American Plate.

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Marinating shrimp in fresh lemon juice before sauteing infuses a more intense lemon flavor. Lemon juice and zest add brightness to the assorted vegetable and herb flavors, not to mention health-promoting vitamin C and phytochemicals such as limonoids. To get maximum juice from a fresh lemon, roll it hard under your palm on the counter prior to cutting.

With Springtime Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Shrimp you'll enjoy a colorful arrangement of fresh, seasonal, delicious vegetables while nature delivers a bunch of good-for-you nutrition.

Springtime Asparagus with Lemon Garlic Shrimp

Content Continues Below ⤵

Makes 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. raw extra large shrimp (26-30 count), peeled and deveined
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs. fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut diagonally in 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, cut in about 1/4-inch x 1-inch slices
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro, optional

Directions

  1. Place shrimp in medium glass bowl. With hand strainer positioned over bowl to catch lemon seeds, squeeze juice from lemon halves over shrimp. Toss shrimp in lemon juice and set aside to marinate.
  2. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat just until oil begins to shimmer. Add asparagus, peppers, lemon zest and salt to taste. Saute until vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Set skillet aside off heat.
  5. In small mixing bowl, whisk broth and cornstarch together until smooth.
  6. Return skillet to medium heat. Add remaining tablespoon oil and garlic. Saute garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Add shrimp and saute 1 minute.
  8. Add broth mixture. Cook, gently stirring continually until sauce has thickened and shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes.
  9. Remove pan from heat, stir in lemon juice, parsley and cilantro, if using. Season to taste with salt, if desired.
  10. Divide vegetables among four dinner plates and top with shrimp.

Nutritional Info Per Serving:
263 calories
9 g total fat
1.5 g saturated fat
18 g carbohydrate
30 g protein
6 g dietary fiber
315 mg sodium

Photo Credit: Heather Victoria Photography