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Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

You only have to taste one bite of fresh, local asparagus to understand the joy of seasonality (and, in my case, experience nirvana). The imported variety pales in comparison with the crisp, juicy and full-flavoured spears that are now in season in British Columbia and just about to arrive in many other parts of Canada. The recipe below calls for thick stalks that are peeled, yielding a different and better result than thin, unpeeled ones. Olive salsa gives the recipe an Italian feel, with its slight saltiness beautifully complementing the asparagus. The season is so short that we should savour every moment of it.

Servings: 4

Ready time: 45 minutes

Asparagus

2 bunches (about 2 pounds) thick green asparagus, ends broken off

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Salsa

1 cup chopped green olives

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup chopped chervil

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped capers

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1/4 cup olive oil

Crema

2 cups whipping cream

1 cup grated Parmesan

Method

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Peel the asparagus from tip to base. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet and roast for 5 to 7 minutes, depending on thickness, until crisp-tender. Cool and reserve.

Combine olives, parsley, chervil, lemon juice, zest, capers and Parmesan. Stir in olive oil. Place asparagus on a serving platter and run salsa across the middle.

Bring whipping cream to a boil on medium-high heat. Boil until reduced by half (about 5 to 7 minutes). Stir in Parmesan and cook until sauce thickens (about 4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Serve the Parmesan crema alongside the asparagus, which can be either warm or room temperature.

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