If you live in California, which is one of the top three asparagus growing states (along with Washington and Michigan), you will start to see locally grown asparagus any day now. The season begins in March on the West Coast and stretches through May in the Northeast.
Keep checking your local markets and get ready to enjoy this delicious, nutritious, easy-to-cook vegetable as soon as it shows up. A member of the lily family and native to the Eastern Mediterranean, asparagus is a good source of vitamins A and C, and has more folic acid than any other vegetable. But the best reason to eat it is that it delivers a hauntingly sweet flavor that signals the arrival of spring.
Buy the freshest asparagus you can find: The stalks should be firm and the tips tightly closed. Plan to eat it as soon as you can once you bring it home. To prepare, wash it well, cut off the white bottom bits to save for stock, and if you wish, peel the lower portion of the each stalk to enhance the tenderness. (You may waste too much if you use the traditional stalk "snapping" method.) Cook it quickly! Sauté, roast, or grill to preserve its beautiful green color and fresh taste. Or, add a fingertip of water to the bottom of a sauté pan, bring to a boil, add the spears, cover, and cook for just a minute or two.
Asparagus is the perfect partner for a wide range of other Mediterranean foods, including onions, mushrooms, pasta, seafood, and eggs.