Splendid spring flavors

And the Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere,

And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast

Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

How divine is the delicious delirium of spring — the weight of winter is cast off, and sparkling sunshine brings forth warming, invigorating, vibrant bursts of color and the delight of longer days.

Sweet crocuses unfurl their potent purple petals, while daffodils crack open their bright yellow buds. Like a joyous declaration of love, the Earth celebrates its renewal by inviting us to once again join seed and soil to create the most harmonious and natural of relationships.

Gardens are so marvelous. The rich scent of freshly turned soil is a most pleasurable perfume to gardeners. What a blessed pursuit to plant vegetables, herbs, berries and fruits to sustain our bodies, and gorgeous flowers, shrubs and trees to sustain our souls.

The most regal of all spring crops must surely be asparagus. Prized as an epicurean delight, the succulent flavor of fresh spring asparagus is a gustatory pleasure treasured by kings and commoners alike.

Asparagus is as healthy as it is delicious, and is a marvelous source of folate, which is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system. A good source of potassium, asparagus is quite low in sodium and contains essential vitamins such as K, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, as well as dietary fiber, manganese, copper, phosphorus and protein.

Asparagus picked fresh from the garden is so delicious. Snapping off a tender stalk and savoring the distinctly delicate flavor is a delectable springtime delight. When purchasing asparagus at the supermarket, look for stalks that are bright green in color, with no yellowing, with tightly closed tips. Bring them home and store upright in a glass filled with an inch or two of water to keep the stalks extra fresh.

A most versatile ingredient, asparagus takes well to grilling, roasting, steaming, and sauteeing. Asparagus can be enjoyed raw in salads, added to stir frys, soups or pasta dishes and is especially well suited to egg-based recipes, such as stratas, quiche or omelets.

Celebrate the splendor of Spring as you prepare your delicious life!

Roasted Asparagus
Serves 4-6.

1 ½ pounds thick asparagus, ends trimmed off

4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pinch of sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

grated zest of a well washed lemon or orange

1 cup dried breadcrumbs (plain or flavored)

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, place asparagus, lemon or orange zest, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over mixture.  Using your hands, mix all the ingredients until asparagus is well coated.
Place asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet lightly coated with remaining olive oil. Roast for 10-15 minutes (shaking pan every few minutes for even browning.) until crisp tender. Check tenderness by piercing a spear with a paring knife, or taste test. Remove from oven, place on a platter and drizzle with a little lemon or orange juice if desired.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to www.theconsciouscook.net. Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.