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Fresh asparagus: celebrate the first spears of spring

By Carolyn Malcoun, March 25, 2009 - 4:36am

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I love spring, but there are some things about spring I don’t love so much. Being woken up in the middle of the night by the oh-so-loud chorus of peepers (aka cute little frogs), for instance. Or walking my dog through ankle-deep mud at the park so she doesn’t destroy our apartment due to lack of exercise. But things start to look up a bit on those walks when I see the first bright red buds on maple trees and smell that iconic “spring” smell in the air. Then I see them: my neighbor’s first stalks of asparagus poking through the ground. That’s my signal to get to the farmers’ market for the first local asparagus of the year.

Get the recipe: Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus

Then it’s time to get cooking. Though I love über-simple roasted asparagus (toss with oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450°F for 15-20 minutes), a little fanfare is fun too. I love wrapping thin slices of prosciutto around bundles of asparagus and tossing them on the grill for a bit to make delicious side dish for entertaining. And speaking of entertaining, Shrimp & Pesto Pasta, made with a few choice store-bought ingredients, is perfect for when friends are coming over on a busy weeknight. Toss lightly steamed asparagus with crunchy radishes and a gingery sauce or top roasted asparagus with a Caesar-inspired sauce for quick and easy side dishes. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a patch in your backyard, grab a bunch of asparagus from the market and celebrate spring’s fresh flavor.

Asparagus Tips

  • At the market: Look for sturdy spears with tight heads; the cut ends should not look dry or woody.
  • Storing asparagus: Trim the ends of spears and stand them upright in about an inch of water, cover with plastic and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Or wrap ends with a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag for up to 3 days.
  • Kitchen prep: To trim, cut or snap off stem ends; remove any remaining tough skin from the end of the spear with a vegetable peeler, if desired.

TAGS: Carolyn Malcoun, Food Blog, Dinner, Eating green, What's in season

Carolyn Malcoun
A graduate of New England Culinary Institute and University of Wisconsin with a degree in journalism, Carolyn pairs her long-standing love for food with writing as EatingWell's senior food editor. Carolyn’s culinary interest is rooted in her childhood; she grew up making thousands of Christmas cookies every year with her mom and picking leaves off bunches of parsley to make tabbouleh with her dad. Away from the kitchen, Carolyn enjoys seeking out rare craft beers and exploring the outdoors with her husband, young daughter and dog.

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