Healthy Baked Chicken and Asparagus

Updated on March 16, 2016
nifwlseirff profile image

Kymberly loves to cook, bake and preserve. She'd love more time to experiment in the kitchen and come up with delicious (healthy) recipes!

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Asparagus is one of the most healthy and delicious vegetables, but is in season for a short time.

A symbol of spring, it has been popular throughout history. It was cultivated in Egypt, and prized by the Romans.

Once offered to the gods, and affordable only by the wealthy members of society, there are now several types readily available in supermarkets in spring.

Green and purple asparagus are more common than the mild-flavored white asparagus, except in some European countries.

In this recipe it is recommended to use younger stalks without peeling - preserving more flavor, nutrients and fiber.

Nutrition - raw asparagus, 100g

Nutrition
Amount
Calories
20
Fat
0g
Carbohydrates
4g
Fiber
2g
Protein
2g
 
 
Vitamin / Mineral
% Daily Value
Vitamin A
15%
Vitamin C
9%
Vitamin K
52%
Folate
13%
Iron
12%

Nutrient content

Asparagus is packed with vitamins, and is very low in calories. In fact, more calories are burnt in digesting asparagus than are gained by eating it!

The spears are excellent sources of potassium, and anti-oxidant vitamins A, C, and E.

It contains a large amount of vitamin K (good for bone and brain health), plus good amounts of folate, vitamin B6, iron, copper, as well as being packed with fiber.

Fresh asparagus is much healthier (and tastier) than when it is preserved.

Choosing asparagus spears

  • The spears loses freshness and taste soon after they are picked.
  • Choose firm, smooth, vibrant green spears, where the tips are tight and firm.
  • Avoid shriveled spears, or those where the base of the stalk is dry and woody, or with open / slimy tips.
  • After purchasing, store spears in a sealed plastic tub or plastic bag in the fridge, and use quickly.

Fresh asparagus spears
Fresh asparagus spears | Source

Home grown ingredients

Asparagus does take a while to grow - you can harvest spears 1 year after planting a crown or a a couple of years after growing asparagus from seed.

Once you have eaten spears cooked directly after being picked, you may find it difficult to return to the supermarket varieties.

Fresh thyme can be used in Italian and French cooking, and has a much stronger taste than dried thyme. It's very easy to grow, even inside a sunny kitchen!

Healthy baked chicken, prosciutto and asparagus

This easy, light, and delicious casserole is best made with fresh green asparagus.

Paired with the very low-calorie white radish (daikon), onions, thyme, and chicken wrapped with cured ham or prosciutto, this is a healthy, low-fat, and very tasty dinner.

You can serve this with fresh crusty bread, rice or another type of grain for a heartier meal.

Ingredients: baked asparagus and chicken
Ingredients: baked asparagus and chicken | Source

Abbreviations and conversions

L = litre = 32 fluid ounces (US)

5 stars from 3 ratings of Baked chicken and asparagus

Alternative ingredients

When asparagus is not in season, broccoli (including stems), fresh beans or even snow peas can be used.

You can add any other vegetables you enjoy - shredded cabbage, carrots, turnips or swedes work well.

Other fresh Italian or French herbs also work well for a different flavor. Try oregano, majoram, parsley, rosemary and bay leaves.

Garlic and finely sliced red chilli peppers can work well.

English bacon can be used in place of cured ham or prosciutto. Or you can skip the pork altogether.

Cooking time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 45 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 12 slices cured ham or prosciutto
  • 2 bunches asparagus
  • 4 medium onions
  • 1 white long radish (daikon)
  • handful fresh thyme
  • parsley, dried or chopped fresh
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 L chicken stock

Summary of instructions

  1. Snap the asparagus spears into pieces, cut the onions and vegetables and spread over the bottom of a oven-safe pan with a lid.
  2. Cut the chicken breasts into large pieces, place a sprig of thyme and wrap with prosciutto ham. Place over the vegetables.
  3. Season with pepper, parsley and a little olive oil.
  4. Add stock, cover the pan and bake in a medium to hot oven for 45 minutes.

Source

Detailed instructions

1. Cut the chicken breasts into pieces about ¼ or ½ the size of your palm. You don't want the pieces to be too thick, or they will take longer to cook and infuse less of the stock.

2. Lay a sprig of thyme in the middle of each piece of chicken.

3. Wrap each chicken breast piece in a thin slice of cured ham or prosciutto. The salt in the cured ham means you do not need to add extra salt to the dish.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chicken breast piece, wrapped in cured ham.Vegetables layered in the casserole dish.Wrapped chicken pieces on top of the layered thyme and vegetables.The layered casserole, before going into the oven.After cooking, before serving. Smelling delicious!
Chicken breast piece, wrapped in cured ham.
Chicken breast piece, wrapped in cured ham. | Source
Vegetables layered in the casserole dish.
Vegetables layered in the casserole dish. | Source
Wrapped chicken pieces on top of the layered thyme and vegetables.
Wrapped chicken pieces on top of the layered thyme and vegetables. | Source
The layered casserole, before going into the oven.
The layered casserole, before going into the oven. | Source
After cooking, before serving. Smelling delicious!
After cooking, before serving. Smelling delicious! | Source

4. Cut the onions into about 8 pieces - cut an onion in half, the each half into quarters. Slice the radish thinly. If the radish is very large, consider cutting it in half or quarters along its length before slicing.

Other vegetables: Broccoli can be left in small florets, and beans can be cut to bite-sized lengths once they have been topped and tailed. Roughly chop cabbage into pieces or short slices.

5. Bend each asparagus spear to snap off and discard the woody base of the stalk. Snap the rest of the stalk in pieces about the length of your thumb.

6. Layer the onions, radish slices and broken asparagus spears in the bottom of a glass or metal casserole dish or dutch oven.

Important: The casserole or pan needs to have a lid - the meat will dry out and the stock will boil away if it is not covered while cooking.

7. If you didn't put a thyme stalk in each of the chicken pieces, sprinkle the thyme over the vegetables, then evenly spread the wrapped chicken pieces over the thyme.

8. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste, fresh chopped or dried parsley, and a little olive oil.

9. Pour the stock over the wrapped chicken pieces. The stock should mostly cover the vegetables, just starting to cover the meat. As it cooks, the vegetables will break down, and the meat will end up in the stock.

For a soupier dish, simply add more stock.

10. Place a lid on the casserole dish, and place into a medium to hot oven (180°C or 350°F), and bake for about 45 minutes. The vegetables should be slightly crunchy.

11. Spoon into bowls and serve with fresh bread and a green salad. Enjoy!

Variations

Wrapped chicken with rice - add a cup of rice after the vegetables are in the pan, and double the amount of stock. The rice will soak up the stock as the dish cooks.

Creamy asparagus and chicken - you can do a number of ways:

  • Add a cup of cream after it has finished cooking
  • Use a can of cream of asparagus soup as the stock
  • Use a can of cream of chicken soup as the stock

If you are using a concentrated can of 'cream' soup, you may need to add water or stock to make the liquid thin enough and reach the meat in the pan.

A dusting of parmesan cheese over the served meal adds to the creaminess and depth of flavors.

Spanish flavors - wrap the chicken pieces with thin slices of chorizo salami, or chop a thicker chorizo sausage up and layer with the chicken. Use fennel instead of daikon radish, and tarragon and saffron instead of parsley. For a hotter dish, add cayenne pepper or a chopped chili. This pairs splendidly with rice.

My favourite healthy baked chicken and asparagus dinner - so easy!
My favourite healthy baked chicken and asparagus dinner - so easy! | Source

Comments

What's your favorite asparagus recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Questions & Answers

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      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        Cardelean - Hope your family loves the recipe! I wish I could find fresh asparagus more easily here, but it's certainly a seasonal item (and the green variety is surprisingly hard to find!)

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        CleverCat - Daikon is also superhealthy, and takes in flavours wonderfully - I could not leave it out! Thanks!

      • cardelean profile image

        cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

        Love this recipe! We love asparagus in our house and I'm always looking for great ways to cook chicken. This is a great hub and a must on our dinner menu. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

      • theclevercat profile image

        Rachel Vega 6 years ago from Massachusetts

        Mmm, I love the daikon in there! What a nice surprise ingredient. Voted up!

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        HawaiiHeart - Asparagus is so tasty (and healthy). It always feels like spring to me, when it's available!

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        Susan - Thank you! I actually find it hard to pin down a recipe - I'm always substituting ingredients and playing with herbs/spices!

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        rjsadowski - It's easy and quick, which is partly why I love it. Plus there's asparagus!

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        Rebecca - thanks! It was interesting to see how valuable asparagus was throughout history.

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        Alissa - I hope he loves it! This recipe is one of my favourites.

      • nifwlseirff profile image
        Author

        Kymberly Fergusson 6 years ago from Villingen Schwenningen, Germany

        Angie - thanks! It feels like I've waited forever for asparagus to hit the shelves here (it's only available in season). I'd love to grow my own, but at the moment, I only have a tiny balcony garden!

      • caramellatte profile image

        caramellatte 6 years ago

        Cool hub! I like chicken and asparagus is pretty tasty, too.:)

      • HawaiiHeart profile image

        HawaiiHeart 6 years ago from Hawaii

        I've only try asparagus once - this recipe sure sounds delish. Think I'll have to try asaparagus again - esp. since it's so healthy!

      • sholland10 profile image

        Susan Holland 6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

        I love asparagus, but I did not know it took so long to start when planting and for it to harvest. I have tried the purple - sounds like a must.

        Your chicken and asparagus looks delicious. I like your substitutions too. I am the type of cook that grabs something else if I do not have one ingredient, so I am always interested in the alternatives. Snow peas sounds wonderful. Great recipe! Great hub! Votes and shares.

      • rjsadowski profile image

        rjsadowski 6 years ago

        Your recipe looks to be quite tasty and easy to make.

      • K9keystrokes profile image

        India Arnold 6 years ago from Northern, California

        Yummo! Excellent sounding recipe. I enjoyed the fact that you offer a summary as well as in-depth instructions. The facts surrounding asparagus are quite a bonus! The picture make me very hungry! Great stuff!

        HubHugs~

      • rebeccamealey profile image

        Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

        I love your lay out, and the bit of asparagus history really gives it a boost. Good recipe, I might have to try that! Voted up and socially shared!

      • alissaroberts profile image

        Alissa Roberts 6 years ago from Normandy, TN

        This recipe sounds delish! My husband is a big fan of asparagus so I am going to have to try this out. Thanks for the recipe!

      • Angie Jardine profile image

        Angie Jardine 6 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

        Oh, rats ... it's ages to dinnertime and this has got me going.

        Thanks for the recipe, I have downloaded it to my recipe file ... and am going to look up how to grow asparagus.

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