Given the usual poetic descriptions of asparagus, you might think it's just a pretty face in the produce department. Not so. Asparagus is no nutritional lightweight.
Currently, there's a lot of interest in folate, a B vitamin that is a possible preventive for neural-tube defects in babies. A serving of six asparagus spears supplies about two-thirds of the folate that adult women should have each day. That serving also has more than 10% of the vitamin C that adults need every day and contributes some dietary fiber and iron.
However, all that would be moot if asparagus weren't a versatile and delicious vegetable. If you want to know just how adaptable the spring stalk is, take a look at the winners of the annual National Asparagus Festival in Shelby, Mich. The top contenders make everything from oat bran muffins to gelatin molds to vichyssoise using asparagus as a base. You could cook your way through the entire season and never repeat a dish.
I prefer to start my personal asparagus festival with Asparagus-Leek Risotto. Asparagus stalks stand up better in this long-cooking recipe, so you might want to steam the tips and serve them separately.