It's Asparagus Season!

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It’s springtime, and asparagus are popping up in gardens and also more affordable at markets. This delicacy lends itself to a variety of cooking methods, so now’s the time to get creative in the kitchen.

The edible parts of the plant are called spears, which technically are the stems. Once harvested, the cut ends need to be kept moist, like a bouquet of flowers. Before preparing them, cut off a small amount and peel part of the spears, especially if they seem fibrous.

Here are a couple of recipes to get you started:

Chilled Asparagus with Mustard Herb Vinaigrette

Serves 4

  • 1 pound asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or brown mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon tarragon, finely chopped
  • Dash of onion powder
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • 1 ounce of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil. (or you may steam them)
  2. Trim asparagus and peel if fibrous.
  3. Add to the boiling water, turn down to a simmer and cook until the spears are bright green and just tender, 3 – 5 minutes depending on the size. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Dry as much as possible before adding vinaigrette.
  4. To make the vinaigrette, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, parsley, tarragon, onion and garlic powder, pepper and small amount of salt. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Taste and adjust salt, if needed.
  5. Toss the chilled asparagus with the vinaigrette and serve.

Asian Style Asparagus with Orange Zest

Serves 4

  • 1 pound asparagus, dried and cut into 1 – 2” pieces
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
  • ¼ cup peanuts or cashews, coarsely chopped
  1. Wash and cut asparagus.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together rice vinegar through red pepper flakes to make your glaze.
  3. In another small bowl, place ginger and garlic.
  4. Place a wok over high heat, add oil, then asparagus.
  5. Stir for a minute, then add the ginger and garlic. Continue to stir for a total of 3 – 4 minutes.
  6. Add the glaze and stir until asparagus are coated.
  7. Garnish with cashews and more orange zest.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She also is a second-year culinary student at Caldwell Community College.