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April 2005 Issue
by Ronda L. Halpin
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The second dish I'm offering this month is a nice side dish for any elegant meal. I'm particularly fond of serving this one with Chicken Picatta since it mirrors many of the same flavors and pairs nicely with the delicious chicken dish. This is the type of dish that benefits most from thick spears.

Many people mistakenly assume that thick spears will be more tough, fibrous and not as sweet as the thinner spears, but that's not the case. In fact, white asparagus tends to be less sweet and more fibrous than its green sister, so keep that in mind when choosing white asparagus for cooking. I generally prefer the green version and, for this dish, I try to find spears that are at least 1/4-inch thick. The cut ends of the asparagus should be trimmed. While you can break them near the end, it isn't necessary. Simply trim the ends about 1/2-inch from the cut end and you should be good to go.

So, from now until the end of spring, take advantage of the fresh asparagus that's showing up in markets everywhere. One of the really pleasant things about choosing produce in season is that it's better quality that's usually at a better price. Now, how can you argue with that? It's time to enjoy this springtime star!


Parmesan-Lemon Asparagus

  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 6 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
Clean and precook (steam, boil or microwave) the asparagus just until crisp-tender. Drain it and arrange the spears in a broiler-safe casserole dish.

While the asparagus is precooking, beat the butter until creamy and add the rest of the ingredients, whipping the mixture until all of the ingredients are incorporated well. Spread the butter mixture over the asparagus in the casserole dish, leaving the tips and about 1 inch of the ends exposed. Broil in the oven just until the topping is golden. Serve hot.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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