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All the Asparagus Recipes You'll Ever Need

April 9, 2014

One sure sign of spring is fresh asparagus in the produce aisle. Fat or thin; green, purple, or white; the keys to delicious asparagus are freshness and proper preparation. The plant brings a delicately bright flavor, and notes of subtle acidity, to any dish.

In Season: Asparagus is at its peak from February through June, though hothouse asparagus is available year-round in some areas.

What to Look For: Thickness is a matter of taste. Choose bunches with tightly closed tips and no flowering. Stalks should be bright green and firm (or pale ivory for white asparagus).

How to Store: Asparagus is best cooked the day it’s purchased, but it can be kept in the refrigerator for up to five days in one of the following ways: Wrap the bottoms of the stalks in a damp paper towel and place in a paper bag; store in crisper. Or stand the bundled stalks in a bowl with about an inch of water.

Related: 14 New, Lighter Comfort Food Ideas

Asparagus and Green Beans with Chili-Orange Oil

Infuse olive oil with orange zest and red pepper flakes to give a bright and lively zing to this easy spring side dish.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 wide strips orange zest, plus 2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 bunches asparagus (about 1 pound each), trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1. In a small saucepan, bring oil, orange zest, and red-pepper flakes to a simmer over medium-high and cook 3 minutes. Remove chili-orange oil from heat and set aside. (To store, refrigerate cooled oil in an airtight container, up to 3 days.)

2. Working in two batches, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook asparagus and green beans separately until bright-green and crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking.

3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon chili-orange oil over high. Add half the vegetables and cook, stirring often, until warmed through and tender, 3 minutes. Stir in half the basil, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to a platter. Repeat with 1 tablespoon oil and remaining vegetables and basil. Drizzle with remaining oil and orange juice and serve immediately.

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Linguine with Asparagus and Egg

A poached egg and grated Parmesan on top of tender steamed asparagus and linguine make a light, pretty vegetarian meal. The egg yolk serves as a rich sauce for the pasta.

Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 pound linguine or fettuccine
1 large bunch thin asparagus (1 pound), ends trimmed, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1/2 ounce), plus more for serving (optional)
4 large eggs

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions, adding the asparagus in the last minute of cooking. Reserve 1 cup cooking liquid; drain pasta and asparagus and return to pot along with butter and Parmesan. Toss until butter is melted, adding enough pasta water to create a thin sauce that coats pasta.

2. While pasta is cooking, in a large straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches water over medium until a few bubbles rise to the top. Crack each egg into a small bowl and gently pour into skillet. Cook until whites are set and yolks are runny, 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a parchment-lined baking sheet.

3. To serve, divide pasta among four bowls, top each serving with an egg, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan if desired.

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Sauteed Asparagus with Bacon

What could be better than farm-fresh spring asparagus? Asparagus with bacon, of course.

2 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bunches asparagus (2 pounds), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. Add asparagus to skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until asparagus is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in bacon, mustard, and parsley.

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Asparagus Mimosa

Asparagus mimosa is a classic dish named for the pretty yellow-and-white flower. Press a peeled hard-cooked egg through a fine, stainless-steel sieve to create the bright and fluffy garnish.

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large hard-cooked egg
2 pounds steamed asparagus

1. Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Push egg through a fine sieve. Spoon vinaigrette over asparagus, and top with grated egg.

Steamed Asparagus with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts

Browned butter adds rich depth, and hazelnuts add crunch to this easy-but-sophisticated side dish of steamed asparagus.

2 bunches asparagus (2 pounds), trimmed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts (loose skins rubbed off), chopped

1. Set a steamer basket in a saucepan with 2 inches simmering water. Add asparagus, cover, and steam until crisp-tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

2. Discard water and wipe pan dry. Heat butter over medium, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown and most of the foam has subsided, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour over asparagus and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with hazelnuts, and serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza

Lightly char rounds of homemade pizza dough, and then top with creamy ricotta cheese, lemon zest, and grilled asparagus. Simmer garlic and rosemary in extra-virgin olive oil to make the fragrant, infused oil for brushing the dough.

1/4 cup ricotta
1/2 bunch asparagus, grilled
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
Herb Oil
Basic Grilled Pizza Dough

1. Heat it up: Set up a grill with heat source, coals or gas, on one side over medium-high. Clean and lightly oil hot grill.

2. Stretch it: On a lightly floured work surface, stretch or roll 1 piece basic grilled pizza dough or 4 ounces store-bought dough into a 10-inch-long oval or other desired shape. Brush one side lightly with herb oil or olive oil and season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

3. Grill it: Using your hands, place dough, oiled side down, directly over heat source. Brush dough with herb oil or olive oil and cook until underside is lightly charred and bubbles form all over top, 1 to 2 minutes. With tongs, flip dough and cook until lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes. Slide dough to cooler side of grill.

4. Top it: Top with desired cheese and toppings; cover grill. Cook until cheese melts and toppings are heated through, 2 to 5 minutes.

Asparagus, Leek, and Gruyere Quiche

The ideal centerpiece for a spring brunch, this quiche combines sauteed asparagus and leeks with Gruyere cheese in a buttery pastry crust. Serve the quiche with fruit salad and muffins for a lovely morning meal.

1 tablespoon butter
1 leek (white and light green parts only), halved and thinly sliced, then well washed
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch (1 pound) asparagus, tough ends removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
Ground nutmeg
Our Favorite Pie Crust, fitted into a 9-inch pie plate, well chilled
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lowest position. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium. Add leek and asparagus; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is crisp-tender, 6 to 8 minutes; let cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, 1/2 teaspoon salt, teaspoon pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Place pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with cheese; top with asparagus mixture. Pour egg mixture on top.

3. Bake until center of quiche is just set, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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