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Asparagus Salad and Buttermilk Herb Bread

Asparagus Stalks

A Spring Picnic

Asparagus—fresh and delicate—heralds spring like no other vegetable. Try our tasty asparagus salad and the buttermilk herb bread as starters for your first picnic of the year.

Don’t miss the best time of year for fresh, crisp asparagus–find a farmers’ market near you for the just-picked spears, whether green, purple or white. All varieties come with health benefits such as folate, vitamin C and fiber. And AICR’s expert report found that foods high in folate probably protect against pancreatic cancer.

The best asparagus has firm, smooth, bright green stalks with tight tips. You can keep asparagus in the refrigerator for three to four days. To keep it at its best, store upright in a tall glass with an inch of water and loosely covered with a plastic bag. Before cooking, trim the spears by breaking off the woody, inedible parts and rinse the tips well.

Rosemary, the herb in the bread recipe, contains carnosol and ursolic acid that have shown antitumor activity in laboratory studies. It also has great flavor, and mincing the needlelike leaves releases the flavor that you’ll smell while the bread is baking.

A cancer-fighting picnic that includes fragrant, warm bread and a crisp spring salad is a great way to celebrate the coming of spring.

Asparagus Salad With Lemon-Soy Sauce

  • 1 1/4 lbs. thin asparagus stalks, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch lengths
  • 8 whole scallions, trimmed to include a little green
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 5 scallions, trimmed to include a little green, minced and divided in 2 batches
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice, or to taste

Steam asparagus and whole scallions in a steam basket over boiling water (or in microwave, with small amount of water) until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Rinse under running cold water to stop cooking and set color. Drain and cool.

To make dressing, heat oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ginger and stir until it begins to color. Add half the minced scallions and cook a few seconds. Add broth, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.

Just before serving, place remaining minced scallions in large bowl. Add steamed asparagus and scallions. Bring dressing to a boil over medium-high heat for 30 seconds. Gradually stir in pepper and lemon juice, tasting, to achieve an appealing tart and peppery flavor. Toss vegetables with dressing.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving:
97 calories, 4 g. total fat (less than 1 g. saturated fat), 12 g. carbohydrate, 5 g. protein, 5 g. dietary fiber, 134 mg. sodium.

Quick Buttermilk Herb Bread

  • Canola oil spray
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds, to sprinkle over loaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray interior of 8-x4-inch loaf pan with oil spray.

In large bowl, combine dry ingredients and rosemary.

In separate bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, honey and oil. Stir into flour mixture just until blended. Spoon batter into the baking pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds over top.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool slightly on a rack. Turn out the bread and cool completely on a wire rack. Serve immediately or store wrapped in plastic wrap or foil.

Makes 12 slices.

Per slice: 129 calories, 3 g. total fat (<1 g. saturated fat), 21 g. carbohydrate,
4 g. protein, 2 g. dietary fiber, 250 mg. sodium.


One of asparagus’ health benefits is its fiber; AICR’s The Facts about Fiber explains how much fiber to include in your day and why.

For more whole-grain recipes see AICR's brochure: The New American Plate: Beans and Whole Grains


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