Asparagus can be pricey and it’s a shame to waste any – and what the heck are you supposed to do with all those stems you’ve broken off? Here are a few ideas.
With any leftover vegetable, think how it might be transformed into something marvelous. As a building block for recipes that rely on an already cooked ingredient; as a shortcut. All you need is an inspiration & maybe a recipe.
Think of the recipes you’ll use as “guides” not something set in stone, especially as the amounts of your leftovers might not exactly match an amount in a recipe. Once you have a leftover ingredient to start with, scale recipes up or down, substitute and make do.
Asparagus is a unique vegetable. It used to be a part of the Lillium family, along with onions and their relatives, but now is in its own classification. It’s generally cultivated and is in season in the spring but more widely available, now, year round.
Asparagus, after being cooked, will last from three to five days in the refrigerator. Refrigerate promptly in an airtight container. Cooked asparagus may be frozen and will keep indefinitely, but for best quality, use before 10 months.
Shortcut Recipes that Call for Cooked Asparagus
If you don’t have a lot of leftover asparagus, look for recipes that use a small amount, cut back the recipe or cut back the amount of asparagus in the recipe. In choosing, be mindful of how the leftover asparagus you’re using is cooked. If it’s very soft, consider soups or purees.
breakfast & brunch:
1. egg dishes:
Asparagus shines in egg dishes like Omelettes, Frittatas and Quiches. Here are two favorites: An Asparagus Frittata (try a little leftover or smoked Salmon in this recipe for a real treat) and Instant Pot Asparagus & Chive Frittatas.
Add leftover asparagus to just about any breakfast strata, like this one from Weight Watchers. Since the recipe needs cooked asparagus, leftover is going to be great and the amount isn’t really that particular.
3. eggs benedict:
Tastes Better from Scratch has a marvelous recipe for Eggs Benedict with Asparagus. I’m drooling, and using leftover asparagus just shaves off a step.
Fry up potatoes or sweet potatoes in a hash and add chopped, cooked asparagus spears at the end to heat through. You might want to try this Tyler Florence knock off recipe for Salmon & Asparagus Hash with Poached Egg & Hollandaise.
If you’d like to get a little chi chi and if your leftover asparagus isn’t overcooked, try this Springtime Asparagus Tart with Ham & Mushrooms from Five Heart Home. It calls for a pound of asparagus but that can be fudged, especially with all the other ingredients in the recipe.
appetizers & salads:
6. bruschetta or crostini:
Spread toasted bread with goat or cream cheese, top with chopped leftover asparagus. There are plenty of recipes; do a search to find one that suits your taste.
7. appetizer with dip:
Serve leftover asparagus cold with a creamy dip or an aioli,, like this Roasted Garlic Aioli with Asparagus from Epicurious.
8. cold in a salad:
Serve leftover asparagus cold in a salad, perhaps one combined with quinoa and a fantastic dressing like this Main Dish Salad. It calls for grilled asparagus, but any leftover asparagus will be just fine.
9. cold in a greek salad:
You’ll WISH for leftover asparagus once you see this recipe for a Greek inspired Asparagus, Tomato, Kalamata & Feta Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen.
A bit of leftover asparagus is fantastic in salad bowls, especially when combined with a grain or pasta to stretch it. You’ll never guess this salad from Two Peas & Their Pod could start with a little leftover asparagus.
11. re-style take out style:
Transform lackluster leftover asparagus into a take-out style asparagus similar to these Take-out Style Beans. Use a hot pan, start the seasonings first and just cook through for a minute to sear the asparagus.
12. cream it:
Reduce a little cream in a saucepan, season well, and drop in your asparagus to just warm through. Serve over toast. If you’d like to get more complicated, check out this recipe from Taste of Home.
Place leftover asparagus in a small, shallow dish, spread it with mayonnaise (yes, really!) and sprinkle generously with Parmesan (or other hard grating) cheese. Broil until heated through, bubbly and slightly browned in spots.
14. combine with spring veggies:
Combine asparagus with peas. Any kind of peas, sugar, snap, or snow peas. It’s a classic combo. Cook the rest of your vegetables and for the asparagus, barely heat through. Toss all with butter and serve as a side.
If you haven’t marinated your asparagus, you’ve been missing out, my friend. This bright, lemony marinade is wonderful with asparagus, but in a pinch, toss a vinaigrette over it.
17. add to stir fry:
Drop your already cooked and leftover asparagus in your stir-fries, but just at the end to heat through. Asparagus seems to go best with chicken stir fries, but get creative.
Leftover asparagus is a perfect finish to risotto. Cook the risotto and add the asparagus at the end to heat through. If you’re smart, you’ve saved the cooking liquid, too. Here’s my fave, easy and mostly hands off recipe for Asparagus Risotto.
19. fried rice:
Fried rice, for me, is always an answer to just about any leftover dilemma. Check out this healthy recipe from The Kitchn for inspiration.
20. skillet meal:
Maybe you’d like to toss your asparagus into a skillet meal, like this Ham and Asparagus Skillet from Whole Foods. Just add your asparagus in at the end so it won’t overcook.
21. hot browns:
Layer leftover asparagus (reheat first) into your Hot Brown Sandwich instead of tomato for an updated take on this lovely dish.
Asparagus makes a fantastic cream soup. If you regularly have leftover asparagus, save it in the freezer and keep adding to it until you have enough for soup. If you have just a bit, combine it with another vegetable. Broccoli, for instance, goes well with asparagus.
Some people like the idea of Pesto but find the flavor overwhelming. If you love asparagus, you’re going to love this recipe for Asparagus Pesto from Simply Recipes. Use on bruschetta or add to a pasta.
Since you’ll precook for pickles, try your leftover asparagus in a recipe. This is best with a firmer, less well cooked asparagus. Here’s my easy Refrigerator Pickled Asparagus. Serve as an appetizer or with sandwiches – or as a part of a Bloody Mary Bar.
25. see what bon appetit does:
Any of these recipes in Bon Appetit’s 9 Things to do with Asparagus can be cut back a bit to use however much asparagus you happen to have leftover.
potential waste: stalks & parings
When buying fresh asparagus, there’s going to be waste. The common wisdom in preparing asparagus is to snap it into two and discard the woodier base. Check out this article and video from Oregonian Live, based on testing from Cook’s Illustrated, to save 1/4 of your asparagus.
In the meantime, here’s a few ways to use up those woody ends. After all, you’ve paid for it; turn them into a positive.
1. shaved asparagus salad:
Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave down the stalks discarding the woody outside edges. Blanche in boiling water and combine with cucumber and pomegranate seeds, shavings of Parmesan and dress simply with an olive oil vinaigrette,
2. add to salads:
Cut asparagus stems very finely across and toss the small pieces, raw, into salads and bowls.
3. cream soup:
From one of my favorite bloggers, Ginger & Bread, this marvelous soup is made from the peelings and ends of white asparagus (but green will work, too): Cream of Asparagus Soup, Leftovers fit for a King.
Keep stems in a bag in the freezer and when you have enough, make an asparagus stock. It will fortify your asparagus soups or risottos.
5. use cooking liquid:
Save the nutrient rich water you cook vegetables in and use it in your soups, sauces and gravies or smoothies.
Save all kinds of vegetable pieces and parts and use in your morning Green Smoothies. Think “nutrient packed” items like asparagus & broccoli stems. My green smoothies don’t taste good, but they’re good for you!
I know I’ve only scratched the surface with ways to use leftover asparagus! What are your favorite trips, tips and ways to utilize any leftover? I’m always loving finding something out that’s new to me and would love it if you shared back!