Delectable spring delicacy or fun finger food? Asparagus is both

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Asparagus is a study in contradictions. A snap to prepare, it was such a delicacy in Victorian times that individual tongs were used to allow diners to eat it without messing up their hands.

Patience and speed are required to grow asparagus: crowns take three years to produce the first spears, but at peak season, stalks can shoot up so fast that they have to be harvested every 24 hours. And while fresh asparagus need no embellishment, they hold their own when shaved, blended, grilled, baked,or slathered in a spicy marinade.

Fresh Asparagus Soup with Parmesan Crisps

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Orange-Tarragon Vinaigrette

Asparagus-Mushroom Bread Pudding

Grilled Green and White Asparagus with Aïoli and Smoky Red Pepper Purée

East-West Marinated Asparagus