Daffodils and asparagus—sure signs that winter is on its way out. Some prefer thick spears, some prefer thin—we like both, and white asparagus, too. Because asparagus is one of the few vegetables that intensifies the taste called umami, it pairs well with proteins and makes a terrific base for a first course or luncheon dish. To help make asparagus part of your springtime celebrations, we offer four easy-to-make recipes guaranteed to help you herald the season in very good taste.

Crabby Asparagus  

Dress asparagus with a lemon vinaigrette and arrange on plate. Mix 1 cup lump crabmeat with 1/2–3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons chopped green onion and the grated zest of one lemon. Season with salt and white pepper. Top asparagus spears with crab salad and garnish with a lemon slice.

Bacon Asparagus  

Make a vinaigrette combining one part rice wine vinegar with three parts canola oil. Dress the asparagus in the vinaigrette and arrange on the plate. Cross two slices of cooked bacon on top of asparagus spears on each plate and sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds. (For a supper dish, top with a poached or fried egg.)

Pink Asparagus  

Fold 3–4 tablespoons of tomato paste into 1 cup of whipped cream. Season with a pinch of smoked paprika. Place a dollop of tomato cream on asparagus and scatter with a handful of halved grape tomatoes.

 

Asparagus Nicoise    

 

Dress asparagus with vinaigrette and arrange on the plate. For each serving, slice small boiled red-skinned new potatoes and arrange around asparagus. Scatter with whole or sliced black olives, a tablespoon of chopped scallions and 1/2 of a hardboiled egg, chopped.

Photos by Adam Finkle