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TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Asparagus & 20 Recipes

Spring Asparagus
[1] Spring asparagus can be served at every meal of the day (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

Asparagus Growing
[2] Growing asparagus. It’s very labor intensive and back-breaking: The spears need to be cut by hand (photo courtesy Australian Asparagus Council).

Grilled Rack Of Asparagus
[3] Simple but elegant: a grilled rack of asparagus (photo courtesy California Asparagus Commission).

 

In the U.S., asparagus is a spring vegetable. When you see it in other seasons, it is imported from abroad.

California asparagus is bursting onto the market. Low in calories—just three calories per medium spear—it is full of nutrients and contains no fat or cholesterol.

Asparagus is versatile to serve with about anything:

  • At breakfast in omelets and scrambles, or as a side with poached or fried eggs.
  • At lunch in a quiche, or sliced raw and tossed into salads.
  • As part of a crudités plate.
  • For a dinner first course or side, steamed or roasted and served with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon or lime.
  • In asparagus soup.
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    We have 20 recipes below for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Here’s the history of asparagus.

     
     
    BUYING ASPARAGUS

    Our friends at Good Eggs, a gourmet grocer in the San Francisco Bay area, point out that different widths of asparagus work best with particular recipes.

  • Thin-Speared Asparagus: About 3/16 inch in diameter—a little thinner than a pencil—thin asparagus are perfect for sautéing. The slim width enables the spears to brown but not burn before they’re cooked through.
  • Medium-Thickness Spears: These are around 3/8 inch in diameter, a little thicker than a crayon. Medium-size asparagus work well for most preparations.
  • Thick-Speared Asparagus: These are extra-large or jumbo, and can be up to just under an inch in diameter—about the same diameter as a quarter. They hold up well to grilling and roasting.
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    COOKING ASPARAGUS

    Boiled Asparagus: Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then gently tip in your prepped asparagus. Boil for 2 minutes or until the asparagus are bright green and al dente. Take them out and lay it in a single layer to cool. Top with chopped hard boiled eggs and herbs for a light lunch, or puree with a little green garlic for a simple pasta sauce.

    Grilled Asparagus: Asparagus will slip through the grill if you don’t use a vegetable basket or skewers. We actually like the skewer technique, which creates a rack of asparagus. Simply skewer four or five medium or thick asparagus together, brush with olive oil, season to taste, and cook on a hot, preheated grill Preheat grill for high heat for 2-3 minutes per side (depending on thickness), or to desired tenderness.

    Before you add the oil, however, use the ice bath technique described above. When the asparagus come off the grill, they’ll be moist and crisp.

    Raw Asparagus: After trimming, use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin below the spear. We like to slice it thinly on an angle to create ovals, to add to salads and grain bowls, but you can also peel it into delicious ribbons. Reserve the tips of the asparagus and mix them in with the rest!

    Roasted Asparagus: Heat the oven to 400°. Toss prepped asparagus on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a glug of olive oil and a large pinch of salt and roast for 5 minutes or so—until crisped at the tips and slightly browned.

    Steamed Asparagus: Simply steamed fresh asparagus at peak flavor is so delicious, we find it needs no embellishment—no salt, balsamic drizzle, butter, lemon juice or other seasoning beyond a pinch of salt. It requires just a quick visit to the vegetable steamer (or microwave) to be ready to eat. (Note: While some people love it, we think that a vertical asparagus steamer is a waste of space.)

    But if you do have a bottle of balsamic glaze or balsamic cream, bring it out!

     
    ASPARAGUS RECIPES

    Enjoy asparagus every meal of the day!
     
    Breakfast & Brunch

  • Asparagus Frittata With Red Bell Peppers
  • Asparagus Scramble With Herbed Cream Cheese & Tomatoes
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    Lunch

  • Asparagus Pizza
  • Asparagus Spring Rolls With Sweet Red Chili Dipping Sauce
  • Fresh Asparagus & Smoked Salmon Sandwich
  • Thai Grilled Lamb & Asparagus Salad
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    Cocktails & Snacks

  • Asparagus Crostini With Pancetta & Parmesan
  • Spring Crudités
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    Dinner

  • Asparagus & Shrimp Risotto
  • Green Lasagna With Asparagus & Pesto
  • Linguine, Asparagus & Parma Ham (Prosciutto)
  • Linguine In Clam Sauce With Asparagus
  • Morels With Scallops & Asparagus
  • Warm Salad Of Asparagus Spears & Seared Lamb Chops With Fresh Mint Vinaigrette
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    First Courses & Sides

  • Asparagus & Grapefruit Saute
  • Asparagus & Prosciutto Wraps
  • Grilled Asparagus & Mushroom Salad With Shaved Parmesan
  • Grilled Rack Of Asparagus
  • Radish & Asparagus Salad With Blood Orange Vinaigrette
  • Sweet & Spicy Szechuan Asparagus
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