I start every asparagus season as a minimalist. For me, those first verdant stalks are best savored au naturel — simply roasted or steamed, with nothing but a drizzle of melted butter or olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon. It’s just enough to amplify their grassy, herbal flavor.

But now that I’m several asparagus meals in, I’m eager to branch out. My recipe for pan-seared asparagus with cashews is just the thing when you’re ready for a pan full of punchy, crunchy additions. Filled with coconut flakes, nuts and seeds for texture and lime juice for zing, it’s a great main dish served with rice and a fried egg, or a side to accompany a simple, mellow main.


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I’m especially excited to pair my asparagus with Millie Peartree’s delightful new chicken and noodles. Her recipe makes for a soupy, comforting one-pot meal that doesn’t necessarily need anything on the side, though in my book there’s always room for some nice green vegetables (written like a true mom).

For a quick one-pan meal that comes with the green vegetables built in, there’s my pork chops with feta, snap peas and mint. Meaty, golden-seared pork chops are cooked under a mound of fresh mint and sweet sugar snap peas, and topped with briny feta. The lemon at the end provides the right pop of acidity to brighten everything up.

Staying speedy, but moving into pescatarian territory, we have David Tanis’s soy-steamed fish with scallions and pistachios. He uses a classic Chinese method for steaming the dish on a plate, which you can do with or without a steamer (a large deep skillet also works). The pistachios may be unconventional, but they add loads of flavor and crunch. Or leave them out for a more delicately textured dish, with a gutsy, pungent flavor from the combination of fermented black bean paste, fresh ginger and scallions.

I love the look of Alexa Weibel’s new recipe for spicy tomato beans and greens for something entirely meatless and pantry-friendly. To create a creamy red pesto base, she simmers canned cannellini with red chile flakes, tomato paste and sun-dried tomatoes, and then thickens it all with heavy cream. For a sprightly contrast just before serving, she adds a lemony arugula salad to the top that’s enriched with crispy fried breadcrumbs. Oh, did I mention the pecorino and garlic? It’s a five-star recipe that hits all the right notes.

For dessert, Samantha Seneviratne’s rhubarb quick bread features asparagus’s tangy springtime sister. Perfumed with orange zest and glazed with orange juice and confectioners’ sugar, this treat strikes that delicate balance between sour and sweet. Save leftover slices to toast in a skillet and top with loads of salty butter.

As always, you’ll want to subscribe to access all these smart recipes and so many more (you know, just tens of thousands more). If you need any technical help, the brilliant people at cookingcare@nytimes.com are there for you. And I’m at hellomelissa@nytimes.com if you want to say hi.

That’s all for now, see you on Wednesday.



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