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Done differently: Cheesy asparagus shell tacos

Asparagus season has arrived, but don't fall trap to the regular and often times boring ways of eating it.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Asparagus season in Michigan is finally here and there are so many unique and delicious ways to plate it! Food blogger Gina Ferwerda joined My West Michigan to share some tasty recipes and some helpful tips for the best asparagus season yet!

The season runs through May and June, making right now the ideal time to get locally farmed asparagus. Not sure what exactly you're looking for? Be sure to pick firm spears, that do not bend and those that have close, compact tips.

Keep your delicious seasonally veg fresh by keeping it cold, do not leave your asparagus on the kitchen counter at room temperature. Store the spears upright and if possible, in a jar with water at the bottom. Lightly tent with a paper bag that is breathable (asparagus has a high respiration rate so you don't want to trap moisture in the spears).

CHEESY ASPARAGUS SHELL TACOS 

INGREDIENTS
Cheddar cheese crisps
8 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch) or shaved asparagus 

Taco filling
Your favorite taco meat
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Salsa
Ancho chile asparagus guacamole (see recipe below)

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325º-F. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  Add 1 tablespoon of asparagus in a round shape to the baking sheet, followed by 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese and gently pat down. Repeat, keeping space between each cheese round. Bake for 5-6 minutes, then cool for at least 2 minutes before removing. Lift each round with a spatula and drape over a wood spoon handle or form into a taco shell on the back side of a muffin tin or place in a taco holder. As the cheese cools, it will take the form of a taco shell. 

ASSEMBLE 
Place taco fillings inside of the asparagus cheese crisps and enjoy! 

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ANCHO CHILE ASPARAGUS GUACAMOLE

INGREDIENTS
1 pound Michigan asparagus, chopped and steamed
1 avocado, halved, seeded and peeled
1 garlic clove
3 tablespoons green pepper Tabasco sauce (or 1 small jalapeno, de-seeded)
1/8 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered 

DIRECTIONS
Add all of the ingredients, except for the onions and tomatoes, to a food processor and pulse until thoroughly combined. Transfer to a bowl and gently fold in the onions and tomatoes.  

Can't get enough of the spring stalks? National Asparagus Festival is in Oceana County is from June 7-9, 2019. More info: https://www.nationalasparagusfestival.org

For information on Gina Ferwerda's cookbook "Meals from the Mitten"... visit www.nomnews.com  

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