To me, asparagus sings “spring”, a welcome song after a long winter.
Avoid no more. Whether you want to make soup, salad, or simply a side dish, this is the time to enjoy it at the height of its freshness and availability.
My favorite way to serve asparagus is to grill it. First snap the stalks to get rid of the rough and chewy ends. Then drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and a bit of black pepper. Using tongs, move the asparagus around on the plate to coat each spear before placing them directly on a hot grill. Depending on the thickness, I usually don’t leave them on the grill more than 5 minutes, turning a couple of times to ensure even cooking and blackening. Stay close and watch them carefully to avoid burning.
Once the asparagus is cooked, the least complicated way to eat it is as a side dish with meat or fish, embellished only with a splash of balsamic vinegar. I also enjoy making a salad with asparagus, using greens or grains as the base. Here’s a great Bobby Flay recipe that is substantial enough to serve as a full meal. If you don’t want to take the time to make olive vinaigrette, buy a jar of olive tapenade and doctor it with some red wine vinegar and a touch of mustard.
When asparagus season nears its end and the stalks start getting thick and tougher, use them to make a cream-less asparagus soup.In this recipe, I reserve the tips, microwaved separately, and add them to the finished product. I also puree the whole batch, using one of my favorite tools, an immersion blender. And instead of garlic, I add a chopped yellow onion along with the leek. The sour cream is not an essential element, so feel free to eliminate the fat and skip it altogether–it’s even better that way–pure spring in a bowl.
Reprinted from 2010