Spring is upon us in the valley and I’m clutching on for dear life, because it is so short lived here and so beautiful. It didn’t quite feel right when the orchards blossomed so early, because despite all those cheery little blossoms… it wasn’t spring. It didn’t quite feel right when rainy season came and went (too quickly) … it wasn’t spring. It didn’t even feel right when the flocks of birds that live outside my bedroom window in the big sycamore tree started twittering at dawn each day… no, it certainly wasn’t spring. But suddenly, through subtle clues in the air, the warm sun staying out longer and longer each day, and the sudden burst of energy in everything surrounding me… it’s here. My favorite clue, of course, is in the produce aisle. This is the glorious time of year when some of my favorites start popping up and I get inspired to spend more time in the kitchen.

So, while perusing the aisles (still awaiting the start of the Farmer’s Markets) of my local supermarket, these little bundles of joy peaked out at me…

And I couldn’t resist.

There is just something satisfying about a simple recipe and that’s exactly what I wanted. I lucked out and found a winner with the very first book that I picked up.

Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
From: Ina Garten in Barefoot Contessa Family Style

2 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus (about 30 large)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 lemons cut in wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.
Serves 6

Though Ina swears by using larger spears for more flavor, I have to kindly disagree. I’m a big fan of the thinner spears because of their delicate texture and I think the flavor is just right. I even have to kindly disagree with her instructions to peel the woody base of the spears, and I’m not quite sure if I’m right, but it feels like you’re just peeling the nutritional value right off. Aren’t the best nutrients in the skins, roots and ugly parts of vegetables?

Either way, this recipe is simple and delicious. I smiled at the sight of these little soldiers lined up in a row, and smiled even bigger with the first taste. Ahhh… spring is here!


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