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Dining In: Asparagus and eggs speak of spring

Easter is a holiday filled with the traditions of church, flowers, baskets of treats and what is served for brunch or dinner.

For many families the menu is well established. Ham or lamb is the centerpiece, with side dishes dictated by what’s in season or the favorites of past generations.

The range of possibilities is huge but really comes down to what you like: mom’s potato salad, grandma’s carrot coins, peas, spinach salad, green bean casserole, pierogies, scalloped or au gratin potatoes, green beans, deviled or pickled eggs, and if you are from an Italian family, ricotta pie.

A brunch menu has many of the same dishes, but with more egg-based favorites such as breakfast stratas, french toast casseroles and quiches.

Each of these can be put together the night before and are great if you are assigned to bring a single dish to contribute to the family feast.

Quiche is among the easiest; if you don’t like making pie crusts, you can pick one up in the refrigerator section of the supermarket. Designed by the French to be served at room temperature, quiche can be made the night before, refrigerated, then lightly warmed before serving.

Asparagus is another spring favorite that often is part of the Easter meal. None is being harvested locally yet – it should be available in time for Mother’s Day – but it’s coming up from the South and is for sale in supermarkets. Asparagus and eggs come together in this recipe from that would be perfect for any brunch or buffet.

Asparagus Quiche
1 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed
and cut into ½ -inch pieces
10 slices bacon
2 (8-inch) unbaked pie shells
1 egg white, lightly beaten
4 eggs
1 ½ cups half-and-half cream
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place asparagus in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

Brush pie shells with beaten egg white. Sprinkle crumbled bacon and chopped asparagus into pie shells.

In a bowl, beat together eggs, cream, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Sprinkle Swiss cheese over bacon and asparagus. Pour egg mixture on top of cheese.

Bake uncovered in preheated oven until firm, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Let cool to room temperature before serving.