Italian Spring Asparagus Recipes to Get You into the Season

Even though in many parts of the U.S., it still doesn’t quite feel like it, the first “official” day of spring is actually March 20!

While spring is worth celebrating for the weather, once of the best things that comes with that is spring produce. Many fresh greens in spring, from salad to peas, are available throughout the spring and summer in one form or another, but the real, rare gem of the season is asparagus.

In Italy, both in the countryside and even on roadsides in the suburbs, people forage for wild asparagus, a more delicate form of the thick stalks we’re used to. Long and spindly, wild asparagus a tender delicacy, but you can approximate this Italian favorite at home by getting the freshest, thinnest asparagus you can find at your farmers market and eating it right away before it becomes tough.

Bring spring into your home this month with one of these five Italian traditional asparagus recipes:

Asparagus Risotto

Blanch or steam asparagus in a large pot of water. Add broth cubes. Saute chopped onion in olive oil, add Arborio rice and sauté for one minute before ladling in broth to cover. As broth evaporates, continue to add more until the rice are fluffly and transparent. Chop the asparagus into 1-inch-long sections and stir into risotto along with grated Parmesan.

Asparagus Frittata

Dice one shallot. Saute in a cast iron pan or other oven safe pan until translucent. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Cook for three minutes. Lightly beat 6 eggs and pour over vegetables. Cook two minutes. Top with 1 cup shredded cheese. Cook in broiler for five minutes.

Grilled Asparagus with Prosciutto

Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Wrap each spear with one piece of prosciutto. Grill over medium low heat five to seven minutes.

Asparagus Sformato

Butter flan molds (cupcakes pans work well). Cut asparagus into thin discs. Blend a four ounce chicken breast into ¾ cup of cream. Stir in asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Fill another baking tray with 1 inch of water and place the molds (or tin) into the water tray. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Dice 4 shallots, 2 leeks, and 2 garlic cloves. Saute over medium heat till transparent. Chop edible portions of 3lbs asparagus into ½-inch pieces. Add and sauté two minutes. Add 8 cups of broth. Cook 20 minutes. Blend, season with salt and pepper, and still in half a cup each cream and grated Parmesan.
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