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In Season: Asparagus

The Basics

Nothing says spring like the first local asparagus, when the tender green stalks are at their most delicious. Besides an irresistibly sweet, grassy flavor, asparagus boasts fiber, potassium, and antioxidants such as vitamins A and C.

Buying and Storing

Look for glossy spears with scales (technically, they are leaves) that lie flat against the stalk. The tips should be tight and firm, and smell fresh, and the woody ends should look moist and freshly cut. Whether you prefer your asparagus thin and delicate or plump and meaty, be sure to buy spears that are about the same size to ensure even cooking. Store them standing upright in an inch of water in a glass or jar, up to 3 days.

To Cook

Rinse the asparagus to remove any grit. To trim, snap off the tough end of one stalk -- it will naturally break where the tender flesh begins. Gather the rest of the bunch and, using the trimmed stalk as a guide, cut off the remaining ends with one quick slice. There's no need to peel asparagus unless the skin is especially thick. (If you like, use the trimmed bits in a vegetable stock.)

Fresh Idea

Ribbons of delicate asparagus may look fancy, but making them couldn't be easier -- all you need is a vegetable peeler. Try them tossed with an herb dressing and some hard cheese.

Recipes

Beef-and-Asparagus Curry
Asparagus-and-Potato Flatbread
Steamed Asparagus with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts
Sauteed Asparagus with Bacon
Roasted Asparagus with Lemon and Dill

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