Steven Satterfield celebrates spring's start

Asparagus with green garlic is a staple springtime side dish at Steven Satterfield's Atlanta restaurant, Miller Union. Satterfield's Charleston Wine + Food duties include a green gumbo demo on Saturday.

Roasted Asparagus With Radishes and Green Garlic

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus

1 bunch spring radishes

2 stalks green garlic (see cook's note)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped

Directions

Cook's note: Green garlic is a milder, immature form of garlic that looks like a green onion.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim off bottom quarter or higher of asparagus stalks, wherever they may be woody. Then rinse asparagus well and slice into 2-inch-long pieces. Trim any leaves/stems off of radishes, leaving just a small amount of stem at the top of the radish. Wash well and then quarter each radish. Peel outer layer of green garlic, then thinly slice the green garlic stalks crosswise.

In a large mixing bowl, combine trimmed asparagus, radishes and green garlic. Add extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and toss to coat well. Transfer to a roasting pan, spreading into a single layer. Place in the middle rack of oven and set a timer for 5 minutes. Check the vegetables when the timer goes off and then rotate pan if they need more time to cook. May take up to 10 minutes total. When asparagus is hot but still slightly crisp, pull immediately. Allow to cool slightly then transfer to serving dish and garnish with fresh mint.

Asparagus

by Hanna Raskin

hraskin@postandcourier.com

There is no surer sign of spring than asparagus. For months, The Grocery's website has been counting down the days to its arrival. By the restaurant's count, we're still one week out from the season's start, but the green vegetable seems like the perfect symbol for the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, which annually marks the city's re-emergence from the brief quiet period that follows the holidays.

That's reason enough to be glad about asparagus. But if you're looking to elevate your asparagus appreciation, we've got seven asparagus facts and an asparagus recipe from festival guest chef Steven Satterfield, who next year is publishing a vegetable-focused cookbook.

1. Asparagus sucks up oxygen like a kid about to participate in an underwater race. That's bad news for eaters, because the intake is associated with dehydration, wrinkling and hardening, none of which are desirable asparagus qualities. The best defense against the vegetable's respiration rate is to wrap its ends in a damp paper towel (or stand it up in a glass of water), refrigerate and eat within two days of purchase.

2. Asparagus comes in three colors: purple, green and white. The latter is grown underground to impede photosynthesis.

3. Unless you're having a very polite conversation, it's impossible to talk about asparagus without addressing urine odor. Incredibly, scientists don't know exactly why asparagus consumption influences urine odor or why the phenomenon isn't universal. But studies show there's no health-related reason for people affected by it to curtail their asparagus consumption.

4. According to a South Korean study published in 2012, the amino acids in asparagus can help combat hangover symptoms.

5. Louis XIV was one of a long line of western rulers, dating back to the Greek and Roman eras, who prized asparagus. The French king ordered the construction of a greenhouse so he could eat fresh asparagus whenever he wanted.

6. When shopping for asparagus, look for thin, firm, bright-green stalks with closed tips.

7. There are 300 kinds of asparagus, but fewer than 10 percent of them are edible. The asparagus' fruit, a small red berry, is poisonous.