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Roasted asparagus makes a healthy appetizer or side dish

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One sure sign of spring in Central New Jersey is the presence of asparagus in farm markets and grocery stores.

A versatile vegetable that is easy to prepare, asparagus can be enjoyed on its own or as an ingredient in other recipes. It also can be served hot or cold.

Asparagus has many health benefits. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, asparagus is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds, both of which help keep the circulatory and nervous system in good working order and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer. Asparagus is also low in calories – a one-cup serving has about 40 – and it is high in fiber. And because it contains no fat or cholesterol and is full of vitamins, asparagus looks like a near-perfect food.

One of the easiest ways to cook asparagus is to roast it. First wash, then trim the asparagus by removing the tougher portion found at the bottom of the spear. Pour about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a baking dish and arrange the spears over the oil. Sprinkle the asparagus with a little more olive oil, grated cheese, oregano, and salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes.

This easy, roasted asparagus dish works well as an appetizer or as a vegetable side dish.

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