There’s no better way to celebrate the beginning of spring than to enjoy its bounty. Asparagus, to be specific.

While you can enjoy asparagus long before the snow stops flying, it never tastes better than it does right now, making it all the more important to find new and delicious ways to enjoy it.

This week, my favorite way came in the form of Crispy Parmesan Chicken With Roasted Asparagus Salad.

For perfectly roasted asparagus, you first have to buy the best stalks and trim them correctly. Look for bright green asparagus with firm stalks and fully closed budding tips. Then take those stalks and trim them at the point where the green tender part meets the white, tougher ends.

Toss them with a little oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a hot oven, just to the point of crispy-tenderness. The timing will depend greatly on the thickness of the stalk, so don’t follow a recipe blindly. Poke the stalks with the tip of knife to see if they are slightly tender, then pull them from the oven. The stalks will continue to cook a bit after they are done roasting, so keep that in mind.

For this recipe, I roast the asparagus before I start to pan-fry the chicken, allowing it to cool to room temperature so the tender butter lettuce of the salad isn’t wilted by it.

A ranch-style dressing is made with buttermilk, sour cream and mayo. For this springtime variation, a splash of lemon juice and fresh tarragon is added.

Chicken breasts are pounded out thin before being breaded with panko crumbs mixed with grated Parmesan cheese. Let’s take a moment to discuss the wildly varying sizes of chicken breasts. Some are 4 to 6 ounces and others weigh closer to 12. If you’ve found the gargantuan variety, cut them in half before pounding.

In this recipe — and, I would argue, every recipe — it’s important to use high-quality, real Parmesan cheese. Since the salad is topped with shaved Parmesan, you’ll get your money’s worth out of a wedge.

The chicken is pan-fried until crispy, golden brown. Place it on a rack and let it cool for a few minutes before topping it with the dressed butter lettuce, roasted asparagus and the shaved Parmesan. The result is a sophisticated, interesting to eat dish with contrasting flavors, textures and temperatures. A lovely celebration of a welcome harbinger of spring.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at

@meredithdeeds.