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Let this asparagus pasta with grated apple usher you into spring

(Photos by Rey Lopez for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Monday marked the first day of spring — according to the calendar. And, yes, the squat little rosebush by my front stoop is a pompom of tiny green leaves, and the cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin are nearing peak bloom, but the morning temperature in D.C. still hovers around a frosty 32.

So maybe I’m being overhasty with this week’s Dinner in Minutes recipe, which prominently features asparagus, a favorite spring vegetable.

No, the thin, tender stalks that I love to eat raw are not yet plentiful at farmers markets, but this dish, Pasta with Asparagus, Blue Cheese and Walnuts, still reminds me that there are milder days ahead. It’s just like me, with one foot in winter and one in spring.

The thicker, meatier asparagus available year-round works well in this preparation, and the blend of bitter walnuts, peppery arugula and pungent blue cheese makes for a hearty pasta dish with hues of green that strikes the right balance as the chill lingers.

To start, you place the asparagus in a high-heat skillet with a little oil and cook it until it takes on a few brown spots; then add the walnuts and cook the mixture until the nuts are toasty and the asparagus is crisp-tender.

The arugula gets added to the pan for a minute until just wilted. Then, that mixture is tossed with your favorite pasta, blue cheese, a splash of vinegar and a little more oil.

But you’re not quite done yet. This is where this America’s Test Kitchen recipe offers a smart twist. After you divide the pasta among bowls, you grate a fresh apple over each. This sounded a little unusual to me, but the apple pieces complemented the nuts and blue cheese beautifully and gave each bite a cool, juicy surprise.

So if it is not yet gloriously temperate where you are, I hope this dish of sweet and bitter, crisp and creamy helps you bridge the seasons.

Get the recipe: Pasta With Asparagus, Blue Cheese and Walnuts