Left Bunny about to dig into her first asparagus Milanese of the season; right various asparagus in season in Bologna street market accompanied by the ever fresh lemon.
Tender green shoots poke above the ground and announce the coming of spring. The name for asparagus -- a member of the lily family -- comes from the Greek word meaning “shoot” or “sprout.” Asparagus is one of the first foods to break through the winter crust of soil.
Asparagus is among my favorite vegetables, along with the artichoke and the radish, for me it signals the promise of renewal and freshness. It was also my Dad’s favorite and my Aunt made sure to always have it for him when he came to dinner in springtime. Plain steamed was his favorite, with a bit of butter.
Since I came to live in Lugano its appearance at spring time always feels like a visit with my Dad. My favorite way to eat it is asparagi alla Milanese. Almost as simple, the delicate stalks are steamed or pan fried (my preference) with an egg sunny side up over the bottom of the stalks, and generous amounts of parmesan shaved over the whole thing (as pictured above). Asparagus risotto is also a springtime treat, though a lot more work!
Beyond being tasty, asparagus is a perfect example of nature’s intelligence, a spring food packed with goodness. Proclaimed as a digestive aid, asparagus is high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties and its rich mix of vitamins and minerals are even mood boosting. Imagine, asparagus, one of nature’s anti-depressants.
Smelly pee is a low price to pay for such health and goodness!