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Each week, Jennifer Chandler shares recipes, menu ideas, and tips on eating local – anything food-related is on the menu!Tuesdays7:49 a.m.8:49 a.m.4:48 p.m.6:48 p.m.

Asparagus heralds the beginning of spring

Justin Fox Burks

It’s one of the first green vegetables to arrive fresh and in-season at the market after a long winter of root vegetables.

With a growing season that runs April through the beginning of June, asparagus lends itself to an assortment of fresh and tasty dishes.

When picking asparagus, look for bundles with firm spears whose tips are closed and green. Avoid dry, brownish looking spears.

Once you've made your pick, it’s very important to store your asparagus properly to keep it fresh. The best way is to treat the spears like flowers. Trim the stems and wrap a moist paper towel around the ends or, even better, stand them upright in a couple of inches of cold water. Both ways, be sure to store the asparagus in the refrigerator.

When you are ready to cook the asparagus, instead of cutting off the ends with a knife, use your hands to break the bottom of the stems off. The asparagus stalk will naturally break at the point where they have become tough and woody. Discard the end pieces and use just the tender spears.

Asparagus are very versatile. They can be steamed, sautéed, roasted, or even grilled.

Garnish simply with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, or a little grated Parmesan. No need to over-do it.

Whichever way you choose to cook your asparagus, just be sure not to overcook it. The beauty of this Spring veggie is in cooks in just minutes.

This is Jennifer Chandler with The Weekly Dish. Bon Appetit!

Grilled Asparagus

  • Vegetable oil, for the grates
  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, tough woody ends snapped off and discarded
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.

Place the asparagus on a baking sheet. Toss with the oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place the asparagus on the grill. Cook, turning once or twice, until tender and slightly charred, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Serves 4.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler.

Jennifer Chandler graduated at the top of her class from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She is a full-time mom to two daughters in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and author of four cookbooks The Southern Pantry Cookbook, Simply Salads, Simply Suppers, and Simply Grilling.