At this time of year, the magical time when New England farms begin to harvest some fresh green vegetables after a cold winter of barren fields, the temptation to serve asparagus at least once a day is powerful. Honestly, though, my husband Ted has a limit on how much asparagus soup, grilled asparagus, and asparagus stir-fry he's willing to consume. I don't really understand it, as I'm sure I could eat asparagus three times a day for the all-too-brief six-week season. Recently I had a nice bunch of spears in the fridge, and I turned to the pantry for inspiration. Chickpeas provided the first glimmer, and tahini the next, and this roasted asparagus hummus came together in minutes after that. Adjust the proportion of vegetable to chickpeas to suit your taste, and process it to a smooth texture or leave it fairly chunky, if that's what you like. The subtle flavor and light green color of the asparagus will delight you, without scaring off any kids who aren't firmly in the asparagus camp. Make this a day ahead for easy entertaining.
Although this recipe originated in Jamaica, it's popular throughout the Caribbean, and you can see why, can't you? These orange-spiced carrots look happy. That's because they are happy, after bathing in sugar, ginger, and orange or mango juice. The recipe couldn't be easier: Shred some carrots, using a food processor fitted with a shredding disk; cook the liquid and aromatics; dunk the carrots in the liquid; let everything get happy together for a quick few minutes. This dish tastes just as good cold as hot, so you can make it a day in advance. Serve as a side dish to not-too-spicy jerk chicken.
WARNING: This is not a mirage. It's cauliflower. More specifically, it's aloo gobi, the classic Indian cauliflower and potato dish, redolent with warm spices and gold-tinged by turmeric. Yes, I am trying to get over my lifelong distaste for cauliflower in 2013, by combining it with flavors and in recipes I already know I love. Almost anything cooked in a spicy hot base tingles my taste buds; add to that the convenience of using the slow cooker, and I had to give this dish a go. I can't say I fell head-over-heels for the cauliflower, but I ate a few pieces, which is more than I might have done a year ago. My husband Ted happily devoured the rest with some steamed basmati rice. (Note: recipe updated based on reader comments below.)