Aside from the exit of winter — in some states! -- we love spring for the arrival of asparagus. A member of the Lily family, asparagus is a bit of a natural wonder: although plants take three years to produce a harvestable crop, once they do, healthy spears will push their way out of the soil at an astounding 10 inches per 24 hours.
For all that rapidity, the little buggers are also nutrient rich, providing potassium, fiber, thiamine and vitamins B6, A and C. Best of all, they cook up tender, make a great side dish and lend an earthy sweet flavor to soups and salads.
We like ours roasted, as shown in the recipe below — a quick and easy side dish or, with the addition of the egg, center of the plate star.
(Serves 6 to 8)
2 pounds of asparagus
freshly ground pepper
1. Place asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer. Coat with olive oil and a liberal amount of salt and pepper.
2. Roast the spears in the oven — set at 425 degrees, with the rack in the top third of the oven — or on a grill for about 25 minutes, turning every so often, until the spears are browned. We actually prefer them a little charred!
3. Serve warm.
Alternatively, the spears can be wrapped in prosciutto prior to roasting. After roasting, they are quite tasty tossed with a moderate amount of balsamic vinegar or served with a fried egg or two on top.