One of the miracles of the modern world is that you're able to find fresh asparagus in your local supermarket in the middle of winter, and it might even taste okay. But those supermarket spears pale in comparison to what you'll find at your local farmers' market come spring. The stuff shipped from who-knows-where can't touch the sweet, grassy flavor of peak-season asparagus, and I like to eat asparagus all the time in all sorts of ways this time of year. If you need a little help with preparing and storing asparagus, we've got a guide that's got you covered, but here are also 17 of our best asparagus recipes, from an asparagus and sweet pea frittata to Sichuan-style asparagus and tofu salad, to serve as inspiration.
One of the absolute easiest ways to cook asparagus is to sauté it in a heavy pan with a little vegetable oil. The key is to get the pan hot and to avoid overcrowding the asparagus—you want to sear the stalks quickly so that they get a charred, woodsy flavor before their interiors get too soft. Try serving the asparagus with a quick caraway-yogurt sauce.
Broiled Asparagus With Cotija Cheese
A hot pan will get you pretty nicely caramelized asparagus, but putting that pan under a blazing broiler is even better. The asparagus will get great color but also stay crisp. We toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper before cooking and finish with a squirt of lime juice and a sprinkling of Cotija cheese.
Simple Grilled Asparagus
The grill is another effective tool for quickly browning asparagus. Toss the asparagus with olive to make sure it doesn't dry out and be careful to keep the stalks perpendicular to the grates so you don't lose any to the fire. Grilled asparagus is delicious as is, but even better when it's dipped in homemade aioli.
Braising might seem like a recipe for bland, mushy asparagus, but do it right and you'll be rewarded with a flavorful, perfectly tender result. We like to sear the stalks first to give them a little extra flavor before braising them in a mixture of stock and butter, which reduces to a rich sauce.
Quick-Pickled Asparagus With Tarragon and Shallot
You don't have to cook asparagus at all—the hearty vegetable stands up well to pickling. This recipe uses a white wine vinegar brine flavored with tarragon and shallot, which makes for tangy, crunchy pickles that you can eat on their own, toss into salads, or layer into sandwiches. This recipe isn't appropriate for canning, but the pickled asparagus will last a few weeks in the fridge.
Breakfast and Brunch
Spring Ramp and Asparagus Frittata
This frittata pairs asparagus with a more elusive spring vegetable: ramps. If you can't find ramps, leeks or garlic will make a different but still tasty dish. We stir the eggs vigorously when they first hit the pan to form loose curds, then stop, let the bottom set, and move the pan to the broiler until the top looks done.
Asparagus and Sweet Pea Frittata With Minty Spring Salad
Ramps aren't always easy to find, but I'm sure you can get your hand on some peas to make this frittata. If you have access to tiny, super-sweet fresh peas then you can use them, but otherwise go frozen. To round out the meal, serve the frittata with a fresh, herbal salad of shaved raw asparagus, mint leaves, and pea tendrils
Flipped Frittata With Asparagus, Spinach, Ham, and Cheese
If you don't feel like turning on the broiler to make a frittata, you can finish it by flipping it midway. You end up with a denser texture, one that you might actually prefer over a poofier, oven-finished frittata. Here we use the technique for a frittata loaded with asparagus, shishito peppers, spinach, ham, and cheese.
Diner-Style Asparagus, Bacon, and Gruyère Omelette for Two
Packed with crispy bacon, sautéed asparagus, and Gruyère, this hearty omelette will comfortably feed two people. This is no delicate French omelette—we cook the eggs until they start to brown and we don't move them around that much, which lets them form large, fluffy curds.
Sautéed Asparagus With Chorizo, Fried Eggs, and Smoked-Paprika Allioli
We keep the asparagus and eggs theme going here, but turn instead to fried eggs and replace the bacon with cured Spanish chorizo. The chorizo's flavor penetrates the whole dish because we use the rendered fat to sauté the asparagus and cook the eggs. If that's not enough for you, finish the dish with an additional drizzle of the chorizo fat.
Cheesy Grits With Spring Vegetables
As far as savory breakfasts go, grits are one of the most luxurious ways to start the day—especially if you make them with whole milk, cheddar cheese, and Parmigiano Reggiano. A rich bowl of slow-cooked grits needs something lighter for balance, so we top it with an assortment of spring vegetables glazed with butter and fresh herbs.
Poached Chicken and Asparagus With Green Goddess Sauce
One tricky thing about cooking asparagus is that the tips cook faster than the stems—this isn't usually a big deal, but peeling the asparagus will let it cook more evenly. We poach the asparagus and serve it with poached chicken and a green goddess sauce that has whipped cream folded in for an almost mousse-like consistency.
Stir-Fried Spring Vegetables With Black Olives and Sichuan Peppercorn
This stir-fry is packed with ingredients you probably wouldn't expect to find in a Chinese-style dish: asparagus, fava beans, morels, and even black olives. Tradition aside, these spring vegetables taste great with garlic, ginger, scallions, Shaoxing wine, and soy sauce. It's worth the effort to blanch the green veggies before stir-frying—it sets their color so they stay vibrant.
Sichuan-Style Asparagus and Tofu Salad
Another Chinese-inspired dish, this one pairs tender-crisp blanched asparagus with meaty firm tofu. We dress the salad with a mouth-numbing hot-and-sour sauce that we'd normally use to serve Sichuan-style wontons (minus toasted sesame oil, which is a little overpowering in this dish).
Ricotta Gnocchi With Asparagus and Prosciutto
Making pasta from scratch is an intimidating task, but homemade gnocchi is actually incredibly easy and only takes about half an hour. Whether or not you make the gnocchi yourself, definitely try out this dish of gnocchi served in a cream-based sauce made with asparagus, prosciutto, and scallions.
Asparagus Tartine With Ricotta and Mint
If I find beautiful asparagus at the farmers' market, I want to prepare it simply to preserve its fresh sweetness. This tartine celebrates the vegetable—we blanch the asparagus and serve it with creamy, mild ricotta. Mint leaves, freshly cracked black pepper, and olive oil bring the dish together without stealing the spotlight.
Asparagus and Ramp Soup With Yogurt
We couldn't leave you without one more recipe using ramps—we love to pair them with asparagus while their seasons overlap. This easy spring soup is made with blanched asparagus, sautéed ramps, broth, and yogurt. Garnish each bowl with sautéed ramps and asparagus tips, mint, and plenty of olive oil.