Don’t Spare the Asparagus This Spring


Take advantage of asparagus while its spring abundance keeps prices reasonable with these recipe ideas. 

Asparagus season reigns during May and June in Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, nearby New Jersey ranks fourth nationwide in production of this alluring crop. This is a boon for shoppers like me, who prefer local produce.
I suggest taking advantage of asparagus while its abundance keeps prices reasonable. There are so many ways of cooking this versatile vegetable, I could serve it many nights in a row without repeating a recipe.
My first lesson in asparagus preparation came from a cook who worked in my grandmother’s kitchen during the 1950s. No one knew about steaming back then so she briefly boiled a bunch of asparagus.
While the spears were still bright green, she tossed them into sweet butter. Decades later, I began sprinkling grated parmesan cheese on top the of butter. Nothing could be simpler, or more decadent.
Asparagus spears are elegant in salads, side dishes and pasta sauces. They enhance other foods they’re paired with. Better still, they are a nutritional powerhouse. Low in calories and sodium, they contain no fat or cholesterol.
They are also an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and B6.
I love asparagus for their woodsy aroma, crunchy flower-like tips and delicate flavor. Belonging to the lily family, they are the best part of spring.
Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
cooking oil or nonstick vegetable spray
1-2 Tbsps. olive oil
kosher salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 400˚.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus spears and discard. Rinse the asparagus under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
Coat an oven-proof baking dish with cooking oil or non-stick spray. Place the asparagus in the baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roll spears around the with a spoon to coat.
Roast in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until the asparagus browns. Check often to make sure asparagus doesn’t burn. 
Serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Too-Easy Microwave Asparagus
1 lb. asparagus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt to taste
Rinse the asparagus under cold water. Cut off the hard ends of each spear and discard.
Place in a microwave-safe baking dish with a flat bottom, large enough so spears fit in a single layer or overlap slightly.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Turn spears so they are evenly coated.
Dampen a paper towel and cover the asparagus with it. Microwave on high power for 4 minutes, or until asparagus spears are slightly softened but still crisp and bright green.
Serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Asparagus Salad With Zesty Russian Dressing
1 lb. asparagus
kosher salt to taste
Dressing Ingredients:
2 Tbsps. light mayonnaise
4 Tbsps. ketchup
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1⁄4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dill, minced
1 tsp. capers, drained
Rinse the asparagus under cold water. Cut off the hard ends of each spear and discard.
Place the spears in an asparagus steamer, tip sides up — or place the spears on a rack set inside a pot. Add an inch or two of water and cover the steamer or pot.
Steam for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the spears are still bright green and firm but only slightly softened.
Remove from the steamer and run under cold water. Gently roll on paper towels to dry.
Place the spears on a platter and sprinkle with salt.
Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Reserve. Dollop the dressing over the asparagus and serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Asparagus and Garlic Oil on Pasta
(Pareve or Dairy)
1 lb. ziti, penne or farfalle pasta
2 lbs. asparagus
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Tbsps. olive oil
kosher salt
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a large pot, start the water boiling and prepare pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, rinse the asparagus under cold water. Cut off the hard ends of each spear and discard. 
Cut the asparagus spears into 1-inch lengths. Reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the oil on a medium low flame. Sauté garlic in the oil until fragrant, for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the asparagus and roll in oil. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until slightly softened. Remove from flame and reserve.
When the pasta is ready, drain in a colander and pour into a large bowl. Place the asparagus over the pasta. Using a spatula, scrape out all of the oil onto the asparagus.
Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese, if using. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6.
Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at:


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