Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus spears. Place spears in a steamer basket over boiling water. Steam until tender and bright green, about 5 minutes.
Steam asparagus as above. In a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp each olive oil and apple cider vinegar with 1 tsp grainy or Dijon mustard, plus pinches of salt and pepper. Drizzle over asparagus and serve immediately.
In large deep pot, cook gently in 2 tbsp olive oil: 2 leeks (tough parts removed), 2 celery stalks and 1 onion, all cleaned and finely chopped. Add 8 cups chopped asparagus and 8 cups stock or broth. Simmer for 20 minutes, covered. Remove from heat; using a hand blender, purée until smooth. Return to pot and simmer for 5 minutes more, adding 1 cup grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese at end of cooking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This big-batch soup provides leftovers to freeze and reheat.
Puff pastry makes a happy home for asparagus. Try it in this Easy Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart (pictured above).
Cook an egg in boiling water for 5 minutes, until soft-boiled. Remove from saucepan and place in an egg cup. Serve with 3 raw or lightly steamed (see first tip above) asparagus spears for dipping.