Asparagus! The epitome of Spring: blooming, refreshing and fleeting. Usually in mid-May, asparagus spears rocket skyward, opening their buds (the fern-like tips) for just shy of two weeks. This is the moment to harvest! Beyond that window, they become woody and tough. An asparagus patch must be planted with eyes to the future, as a gardener should let the “crowns” (or roots) become established for one, but preferably two years before harvesting. And so, these conditions truly make the asparagus a delicacy, and one you should not squander when you can get your hands on them!

Unfortunately, I missed the asparagus mob at the Ithaca Farmers Market. I spent a week wallowing in despair, and was ecstatic to find a freshly delivered batch at the GreenStar Coop, compliments of The Good Life Farm. Glee!

The best things in life call for the simplest adornments. And so, I bring you the easiest and most satisfying asparagus recipe in the world. 2 3

We repeated this recipe with baby bok choy. Add a drizzle of sesame oil to the final plate!
We repeated this recipe with baby bok choy. Add a drizzle of sesame oil to the final plate!
Sara and Pablo, enjoying Ithaca's Spring best, with a glass of Ommegang Abbey Ale.
Sara and Pablo, enjoying Ithaca’s Spring best, with a glass of Ommegang Abbey Ale.


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Grilled Asparagus with Browned Sage Butter and Lemon Zest


  • about 18 asparagus spears
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 lemon, lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Fire up the grill! Or, your oven broiler. If doing the latter, preheat your oven broiler to high.
  2. Over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Once melted, transfer to a small bowl.
  3. Coat the asparagus spears in the melted butter with a pastry brush, or in a bowl with your hands.
  4. Put the asparagus directly on the grill. When charred and “floppy”, remove. Since asparagus can be devoured raw, it’s up to you how crunchy or tender you want them! If using the broiler, line up the asparagus on a baking sheet and place on the top rack for 20 minutes until they reach the desired state (just don’t burn, or you’ll never forgive yourself!). When the asparagus are done, move to a serving plate.
  5. Next, slowly melt the remaining butter in the same saucepan. When it is half melted, add the sage leaves, and mix with the butter so that they are thoroughly coated.
  6. The butter will begin to simmer and bubble. Let it continue just until it turns a caramel brown and the sage leaves have rolled up and withered. Transfer to a small bowl immediately or the butter will burn.
  7. Drizzle brown butter over the asparagus. Top with a sprinkle of sea salt and lemon zest.
  8. Soak up the glory!

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