Spring heralds the seasonal return of one of my favorite vegetables: asparagus. The recipe below began as a side dish my family loves. Perfect when local asparagus is at its best, a small amount of prosciutto and Parmesan ramp up the flavor.
The simple addition of shrimp transforms the recipe into a healthy and satisfying entrée. Shrimp are an excellent source of protein, antioxidants, Vitamin B12, selenium, phosphorous, choline, copper, and iodine. As a bonus, the whole meal cooks on the stovetop in minutes, in a single pan.
Asparagus Storage and Prep
For best storage, place the bundle of asparagus in an inch or so of water (so that all of the spears ends are in the water) and lightly cover with a plastic produce bag or vented plastic wrap. You can use a wide-mouth glass or jar or Pyrex measuring cup. Sometimes, I do this right in the produce bag. In this case, make sure there are no holes before adding a quarter cup or so of water. Place a rubber band over the bag and around the middle of the bundle, leaving the top of the bag open. Stand upright in the fridge, where it won’t get knocked over.
When ready to use, wash and pat dry. Then hold the bottom end of each asparagus spear with one hand. Place the other hand at the middle of the spear and bend to snap off the end at the natural breaking point. This will get rid of the tough, woody portion of the spear. Discard the ends.
For a fancier presentation, especially when the spears are thick, you can peel the outer layer from the bottom half of the asparagus with a potato peeler.
Sautéed Shrimp & Asparagus with Crispy Prosciutto & Parmesan
- 3 thin slices (1-1/2 ounces) prosciutto, roughly chopped or torn into small pieces
- 2 TBSP olive oil, divided use
- 1 pound medium or large wild caught shrimp, peeled, deveined and tails removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut into bite-size pieces
- 3 TBSP grated Parmesan cheese
- In a large, non-stick skillet (12-inch diameter works well), sauté the prosciutto over medium heat until crisp, about 4–5 minutes, stirring often. Remove to a plate.
- Add 1 TBSP olive oil to the pan, then add the shrimp in one layer. Raise the heat to medium–high, season lightly with salt and pepper (I use about 1/4 teaspoon each at this point), and cook for 3–5 minutes, turning occasionally, or until the shrimp are opaque and just barely cooked through the center. Remove to a plate. (To keep the prosciutto crisp, place the shrimp on a separate plate.)
- Add the remaining TBSP of oil to the pan, followed by the asparagus and another pinch or two of salt and pepper. Cook the asparagus for 3–5 minutes, stirring regularly, or until crisp-tender. Precise cooking time will depend on thickness of spears.
Return the shrimp to the pan, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, and stir to evenly coat. Sprinkle with the reserved prosciutto, remove from the heat, and serve immediately.
- For a heartier meal, try serving over pasta, brown rice or quinoa.
- Experiment with seasoning. Minced garlic, red pepper flakes and a squeeze of lemon can be added for flavor during the remaining cooking time.
- I’ve always appreciated shrimp for their quick cook time. That said, they can easily be overcooked, resulting in dry, rubbery shrimp. Shrimp are done the moment the flesh turns pinkish in hue and they’re mostly opaque with no gray areas. For medium to large shrimp this will typically take just 3–5 minutes. And remember, carry-over heat continues to cook the shrimp for a minute or two after they’ve been removed from the heat.
- This helpful hint is credited to The Huffington Post: straight shrimp are undercooked, shrimp that have curled into a C-shape are perfectly cooked, and shrimp that have twisted into an O-shape are irreparably overcooked.