Seasonal asparagus packs nutrients into many spring dishes

“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love.” — Sitting Bull

What could be more alluring than the fresh, delectable flavors of spring? The heady fragrance of freshly snipped herbs, the tender texture of garden-fresh baby lettuces, and the blooming of edible pansies and violas all create a palate of perfection in the spring kitchen.

But the true seductress of spring must surely be the almighty asparagus. Exquisite asparagus has captivated conscious cooks since ancient times. The Egyptians offered it up to their gods in certain rituals and utilized its naturally nourishing properties for medicinal purposes. Long considered an effective aphrodisiac, there is supposedly an Arabian love manual written in the 16th century that provides an asparagus recipe purported to stimulate erotic desire.

Serving asparagus to your loved one will provide them with a low fat, low calorie food filled with both soluble and insoluble fiber. The body digests fiber slowly, keeping you full longer. Serving asparagus with eggs is a poetic combination of fiber and protein, that is both visually stimulating and satiating. Lightly steamed asparagus spears served on buttered toast and topped with a poached egg is an elegant choice for a romantic spring breakfast or supper.

A natural diuretic, asparagus may be quite effective at flushing out excess fluids and salt, while reducing belly bloat. If a spring celebration involves a bit too much alcohol, the powerful minerals and amino acids in asparagus may help ease a hangover.

During the all too brief asparagus season in New England, savor this captivating crop with every meal. A salad of raw asparagus, shaved with a vegetable peeler and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and shavings of parmesan cheese is a superb starter. Roast or grill thicker, fatter, spears, then season with a generous grinding of fresh black pepper, a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of lemon zest, and serve alongside chicken or fish. Add sautéed asparagus to grain salads or wrap with prosciutto for a sensational spring hors d’oeuvre.

Spring asparagus should be consumed quickly after buying or harvesting, but should there be a delay of a day or two before imbibing, store your spears standing up in a glass of water to preserve freshness.

Prepare a delicious life with luscious spring asparagus!

Grilled Asparagus Salad

Serves 4

1 pound fresh spring asparagus (the fattest stalks you can find. Wash well and trim a bit off the bottom)

4 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, cut in half

Lemon zest (from another lemon)

½ pound fresh mozzarella, cubed or sliced.

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Toss asparagus with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a grill that has been preheated to a high heat and cook the spears, rolling them to achieve an even char and cook until just barely tender. Spear with a fork after four minutes and if it yields easily, remove from the grill. Grill the lemon halves until charred, cut side down. Arrange asparagus on a platter, add mozzarella. Squeeze grilled lemon halves over all, and sprinkle with lemon zest and basil.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “the Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.