By Nancy Vallarella

Photo: Lobster and Asparagus Salad with Miso-Mustard Vinaigrette

Asparagus season is in full swing on Long Island, with local farmers harvesting these tender spears until the end of June. To make the most of their flavor and nutritional benefits, it’s recommended to enjoy them soon after they are picked. Unlike asparagus shipped from distant locations, local varieties retain more flavor, nutrients, and moisture, ensuring a better value.

To keep your asparagus fresh, follow these simple steps: remove any packaging or rubber bands, trim about an inch off the stem ends, and stand them upright in a glass container with a half-inch of water. Cover the tops loosely with a plastic bag and place in the fridge for up to one week. Alternatively, storing them on the kitchen counter is acceptable if you use them within a few days.

When selecting asparagus, look for tightly furled tips, indicating freshness. Thin stalks require no peeling and can be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked. Thicker spears need to be peeled and are perfect for grilling and roasting. The dry end of the stalk, thick or thin, must be cut or snapped off before preparing.

Asparagus comes in assorted colors, each with its unique flavor profile.

White asparagus, grown without exposure to sunlight, offers a delicate taste and is often used in creamy soups or elegant salads. Purple asparagus, sweeter and slightly nuttier than its green counterparts, adds a pop of color to salads when served raw or can be lightly cooked to retain its vibrant hue. Green asparagus, the most familiar variety, boasts a robust flavor with hints of earthiness. They are ideal for various cooking methods, like grilling, roasting, stir-frying, and marinating.

Looking back on personal experiences, many fond memories are associated with asparagus, such as discovering a dish served at Alberto Italian Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens. Although the restaurant has closed its doors, the flavors of their signature dish, Asparagi Alla Milanese, lives on in my recipe:

Roasted Asparagus Parmesan
(4-6 side servings)
1 – 2 bunches of asparagus (about 1 ½ lbs.)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
freshly grated parmesan cheese
freshly ground pepper and kosher salt to taste


  1. Snap or cut off the dry end of the spear. Peel off the fibrous lower end. Blanch in boiling water for one minute and immediately immerse in ice water. Cool and dry off the asparagus. Arrange asparagus in an oven proof baking dish.
  2. In a small bowl melt the butter. Add the extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to butter and blend with a small whisk. Baste asparagus in a baking dish with the butter mixture. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese onto the asparagus (as much as you like) and season with pepper.
  3. At this point, if you were preparing the dish the night before, you can cover the dish with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. When ready to serve, Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove wrap and place in oven until bubbling and the asparagus are crisp but fork tender (6 to 10 minutes depending on size and temperature of the asparagus).

For an elegant special occasion recipe, I recommend trying Lobster and Asparagus Salad with Miso-Mustard Vinaigrette.

Recipe can be found on

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