In Season: Asparagus

asapragus tips and recipes from the James Beard Foundation

 

Yes, yes, everyone knows that asparagus is in season in the spring. But after a long winter with nary a green veggie in sight, we can't help but get excited about seeing those long, brightly hued stalks at the market.

 

Plus, asparagus is about as easy to cook as it gets. We could eat simple, olive oil-drizzled roasted asparagus pretty much every day until July, but sometimes we mix it up with a piquant vinaigrette and some chopped olives. We also like to blanch asparagus, throw it into the blender with lemon zest and a big handful of Parmesan, and toss the surprisingly creamy purée with penne. If you're itching to get fancy, try a shaved asparagus pizza or a side dish of asparagus with walnuts and plenty of brown butter. Or, if the thought of an asparagus-free summer is more than you can bear, try pickling it with that other harbinger of spring: ramps.

 

How to Choose and Store:

Regardless of whether you prefer thick or thin spears (there really isn't any difference, but we like the heft and bite of thick ones), look for firm, smooth stalks with tightly closed tips. The color should be bright and the ends should not be limp or dry.

 

To store asparagus, trim the ends and wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for two to three days. Or place the stalks, cut ends down, in a vase holding an inch of water. Cover the tops with a plastic bag and refrigerate.

 

How to Cook:

Roasted Asparagus with Olive Vinaigrette [Real Simple]

Chopped kalamata olives and a sherry vinaigrette add an extra hit of flavor to the world's easiest side dish: roasted asparagus.

 

Pasta with Asparagus-Lemon Sauce [Epicurious]

Serve this pasta with something with bite, like a salad of bitter greens tossed with a sharp vinaigrette. Or just halve a few cherry tomatoes and sprinkle them on top.

 

Shaved Asparagus Pizza [Smitten Kitchen]

If you keep pizza dough in your freezer, this dish will come together in minutes. Crack a few eggs on top and have it for breakfast.

 

Asparagus with Walnuts, Parmesan, and Brown Butter [NYT]

Melissa Clark steams asparagus to crisp-tender before tossing it in garlicky brown butter with toasted walnuts and nutty Parmesan.

 

Pickled Spring Onions and Asparagus [NYT]

It's easier than it sounds, but if canning's not your thing, try making these as refrigerator pickles. Skip the water bath and let the vegetables sit in the brine in the fridge for two to three days before eating. Store refrigerated for up to a month.

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