One of the sure signs of spring in my garden is when the asparagus bed begins to produce the tender, delectable spears that we wait for year after year. 

We grow a culture called “Purple Passion” and although the spears come out of the ground a deep purple color, once they are cooked they are the same green as any other asparagus.  With just a little care, once established, an asparagus bed requires little attention. After the first frost has killed back the foliage, we cut it back to the ground, apply a good manure-based compost and mulch the bed with a thick bed of straw to protect it from hard freezes (such as the ones we experienced this winter!).  Then we leave it alone until it is time to harvest. The most important things with creating an asparagus bed is deep, friable, a well compost heap and drained soil and the patience to wait a couple of years to harvest the spears. Granted, that is the hardest part. If you are thinking of starting a bed, go to the internet and Google how to get started. Then, other than the steps I mentioned above, forget about it for two years. Then the payoff begins!
We enjoy asparagus a number of ways but this recipe is one of our favorites.  If you don’t have your own asparagus bed, it is plentiful and relatively inexpensive in grocery stores as the season to enjoy it is upon us!

•1 pound asparagus
•2 Tbsp. olive oil
•1/2 teaspoon salt, less or more
•1/8 teaspoon black pepper, less or more  to taste
•1/2 cup loosely packed (about 1.5 ounces or 40g)
shredded or grated Parmesan cheese,  or to taste

1 Prep the asparagus: Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C). Break or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus spears. For an added touch, if you want you can use a vegetable peeler to peel the skins off the base of the asparagus spears for a more elegant presentation.
Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and cheese.   Arrange the asparagus spears on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
3 Bake: Bake at 400°F until the cheese begins to brown, about 8-10 minutes.
4.  Sit back and listen to the sighs of pleasure.

Dunham's Sports

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