The sandy loam of southern Michigan provides an ideal bed for growing this tender vegetable. “If you get a lot of rain, it doesn’t drown the roots,” explains Mick Klug, a farmer there who brings his choice spears to Green City Market. Look for tips that are closed tight, advises Ben Goodnick of Summer House Santa Monica. And be patient: Wait till the end of April, they both say.

Ben Goodnick’s Grilled Spring Asparagus

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes

1 lb. Green or purple asparagus
¼ cup Olive oil
¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Soy sauce
1 Lemon
  Black pepper to taste
1 Fried egg (optional)

1. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium high.

2. Trim the woody stems off the asparagus.

3. Combine the oil, vinegar, and soy sauce and toss the asparagus with the vinaigrette.

4. Grill, brushing with extra vinagrette, until soft and charred in places (8 to 10 minutes).

5. Remove from the grill and plate.

6. Squeeze lemon over the asparagus and sprinkle with pepper. For extra flavor, top with a just-made fried egg.

Tips: If you do not have access to a grill, cook the asparagus in a stovetop grill pan. For a gluten-free dish, substitute tamari for soy sauce.