Whether you serve a chicken and asparagus stir-fry, a sauteed chicken breast with asparagus on the side or a chicken and asparagus pasta dish, you need a side dish to round out the meal or a third ingredient to add to either the stir-fry or pasta.
Chicken pairs well with a variety of other foods because it has mild, neutral flavor. Asparagus, on the other hand, has a slightly astringent taste that makes the pairing job more of a a challenge. Consider foods that add richness or sweetness to offset the vegetable's natural earthy flavor.
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Rich foods take the edge off asparagus and contrast with lean chicken. The foods may contain fat, such as cheese, eggs or avocados, or they may simply have deep, savory flavor, such as mushrooms, ham or salmon. Use those and other similar foods to pair with chicken and asparagus:
- Add mashed potatoes or creamy polenta made with goat cheese, cream cheese or Parmesan to serve as a side dish.
- Serve a creamy potato salad with hard-boiled eggs or a green salad with a rich Thousand Island dressing.
- Cook intensely flavored mushrooms, such as cremini or shiitakes, along with more mild button mushrooms to add to either a pasta dish or a stir-fry.
- Add bits of chopped ham, Italian pancetta, crab or smoked salmon to a chicken and asparagus pasta dish.
Spicy ginger root enhances the flavor of both chicken and asparagus, according to Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, authors of The Flavor Bible. Use 1 teaspoon of grated ginger in a stir-fry along with red bell peppers.
A touch of sweetness brings depths of flavor to chicken and asparagus:
- Serve a side salad with mandarin orange segments, cashews and a honey-mustard dressing.
- Add mangoes and avocados to a green side salad and dress the salad with an orange, honey and poppy seed dressing.
- Stir 2 tablespoons of chopped dried tomatoes into a pasta dish.
- Cook sliced carrots in a chicken and asparagus stir-fry.
Choose a light wine to pair with asparagus and chicken. Either Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc work well with asparagus, according to Karen Macneil-Fife, a writer who interviewed wine critics and chefs for Sunset.com.