This week at the farmer’s market I rejoiced at the thin and delicate stalks of asparagus, one of the first edible harbingers of spring. I love to cook and eat what’s in season, so I’ll incorporate fresh spring asparagus into many of our meals this month, either as a side dish (we love it roasted), in a salad or as part of a main course, like these Chinese Lo Mein Noodles with Asparagus.

My friend Susan Oliver shared her family’s recipe for lo mein noodles, which she describes as “melt in your mouth.”  The sauce is very mild and kid-friendly (Susan’s three kids love it).  If you like it a little spicier, add 1/4 – 1/2 tsp. chili garlic paste or red pepper flakes to the marinade for the meat or tofu.  We like to serve it with a green salad with red bell pepper, toasted almonds, and carrots, and with peanut butter bites for dessert.

Asparagus tends to be more perishable than many other vegetables and after about 2 days in the refrigerator, it will begin to lose water and harden.  To extend its freshness, wrap the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper or cloth towel before putting in the refrigerator, or stand it in a bowl or mug of water.

How do you enjoy your spring asparagus?

Recipe: Chinese Lo Mein Noodles with Asparagus

  • Prep Time: 5 min(s)
  • Cook Time: 25 min(s)
  • Total Time: 30 min(s)
  • Servings: 8, about 2 cups each

A melt-in-your-mouth lo mein recipe.

Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, plus additional for serving
    • 1 tsp. superfine sugar (or use granulated sugar)
    • 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, (2 - 3 cloves)
    • 1/2 lb. boneless chicken, steak or extra-firm tofu (if using the chicken or beef, cut into thin strips; if using the tofu, dice into 1/2-inch pieces)
    • 16 oz. Chinese lo mein noodles (sold with Asian foods) or spaghetti
    • 1/4 cup peanut oil
    • 1 yellow or white onion, quartered from top to bottom and cut into thin slices
    • 1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into thirds

Instructions

    • In a flat dish, combine the soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 tsp. garlic and add the chicken, beef or tofu. Stir to coat it thoroughly and set it aside. (Note: you can refrigerate the chicken or beef at this point for up to 24 hours, but not the tofu, as it will absorb all the marinade.)
    • Cook the noodles according to the package directions until they are al dente. Meanwhile, in a wok or large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tsp. of the oil over medium to medium-high heat. Sauté the meat or tofu, with the marinade, until it is cooked through, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove it from the pan and set it aside (don’t return the chicken or beef to the same bowl in which you marinated it).
    • In the same skillet, sauté the onions and remaining garlic for about 2 minutes over medium to medium-high heat, then add the asparagus and toss the mixture for another 3-4 minutes until the asparagus is tender crisp.
    • Drain the noodles thoroughly, return them to their cooking pot, and toss them with the remaining oil. Add the noodles to the skillet with the vegetables, or if the pan is too small, combine them in the pasta pot. Add the cooked meat or tofu and toss thoroughly to combine. Add additional soy sauce to taste, and serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 2 days.

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