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Simple sauces for a springtime vegetable -- asparagus

If you're ambivalent about fresh asparagus, you will probably prepare dishes where it is not the ``star'' but the ``stand-in.'' You may hide or partially disguise it in a casserole, souffl'e, or quiche. But many people prefer fresh asparagus on its own -- boiled or steamed al dente and served simply with a butter-lemon sauce. A sauce of melted butter and lemon is one of the nicest ways to dress ``the queen of vegetables,'' whether with the crisp green kind most Americans and Britons prefer or with the expensive white spears with purple tips available fresh in specialty markets. Lemon Sesame Dressing 1/4 cup butter or margarine Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds 1 teaspoon sugar 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Melt butter. Add peel and juice, sesame seeds, sugar, and garlic salt. Stir and heat. Serve over cooked asparagus. Sour Cream-Curry Sauce 1/2 cup sour cream 2 tablespoons mayonnaise or salad dressing 2 teaspoons sliced scallions 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon curry powder, or to taste

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In small saucepan combine sour cream, mayonnaise, scallions, salt, and curry powder. Cook over low heat, stirring frequently, until thoroughly heated. Pour over asparagus and serve at once. Makes 1/2 cup. Yogurt Dressing for Chilled Asparagus 1/2 cup plain yogurt 1 small clove garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon chopped parsley Salt to taste 1 hard-cooked egg yolk

Combine yogurt, garlic, parsley, and salt in measuring cup. Spoon part of mixture over asparagus. Save remainder to pass at table. Press egg yolk through sieve. Sprinkle over yogurt and asparagus and serve with freshly ground pepper if you wish. Italian Sauce 1/4 cup olive oil 1 clove garlic 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon dried basil 1/8 teaspoon pepper

In small saucepan heat oil. Saut'e garlic clove in it, about 1 minute. Remove saucepan from heat. Discard garlic. Stir in cheese, salt, basil, and pepper. Pour over heated asparagus. Makes about 1/3 cup.

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