perfect for tonight: asparagus, many ways, while you can

grilled asparagus

It’s around this time of year that I get super-excited about ramps, green garlic, fiddleheads–things that you can get during only the shortest window of spring in Toronto. I don’t usually jump and down for asparagus. Sure, it’s freshest right now too but it’s sort of always around and though I do like it, asparagus was never my favourite. Until this spring. Seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper and oil, I’m reminded that nothing compares to them when they’re slightly charred outside with some crunch left just at the centre. Suddenly, I’m passing over curled fiddleheads for these straight, firm stalks, throwing them onto and under as hot a heat as I can summon, oven, grill or pan.

Actually, it might have been the asparagus mimosa that I made a few weeks ago that kindled this flame. And I did appreciate their flavour and beauty in this very green soup I made a couple of years ago. I can highly recommend any of these methods to you as you snatch up the last local bundles over the next few weeks. I plan on grabbing a few more myself, and not just to eat them with my fingers, french fry-style right off the barbecue. I found this interesting recipe for asparagus all decked out with in-your-face flavour. And served with deep fried lemon slices? I can’t think of a better way to round out a plate of asparagus cooked in chili paste and jalapenos.

And then there are the laziest ways ever to enjoy asparagus, especially on the unusually hot June nights that are coming and going this year: raw. Shaved or sliced thin, you can dress them the same way you would any salad. So while I’m feeling the pressure to peel my asparagus stalks in a way I never I have before (anyone else? practically faux-pas not to now, I’m sensing), they are still so damn easy to clean, and in that respect they beat their muddy-rooted or furled competition hands down. In case we’re keeping score.