Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip: The recipe is designed for fresh asparagus, but if frozen is what you have, it’s worth making. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

Tapa the morning to you! Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist: This week we take a look at tapas, the traditional Spanish small plates that are as beloved as they are difficult to define. Jason Wilson has the story.

Also in Food, read how women chefs are beginning to make their mark in the male-dominated U. S. military. Kristen Hartke introduces you to two of them. And if you’ve ever wondered what to do with a jackfruit — big, green, spiky and definitely daunting-looking — Bonnie S. Benwick has the answer.

It’s Wednesday, so of course that means it’s time for the Free Range chat. I don’t know whether it’s the only live food chat in the country, but it’s certainly the best! Jason and Kristen will be on hand to discuss their stories, so tune in at noon. The hour flies by fast, so ask your questions early. Unanswered leftovers belong to me; here’s one from a previous chat:

Last week I blanched and froze asparagus spears. When I took out a few to snack on, they were completely waterlogged. Did I do something wrong? I thought blanching/freezing was a good way to preserve vegetables. (I blanched for three minutes, then put the asparagus in an ice bath, dried off, then froze.)

Sounds like you did everything right. Here’s the sad truth: Like most vegetables, asparagus that’s frozen and defrosted just isn’t going to return to its original texture.

There’s science behind that fact. A stalk of asparagus is 93 percent water. When that water freezes, it creates large ice crystals that puncture the cell walls that provide the structure of the vegetable, and the result is the watery, mushy texture you experienced. (Compare with green peas — 79 percent water — and sweet corn — 76 percent — both of which freeze more successfully.)

So, as you found out, your frozen, defrosted asparagus won’t be good to snack on. But the good news is that it will be perfectly fine for including in certain kinds of dishes. Use it where you wouldn’t need or expect the vegetable to be crisp and firm: soups, stews, casseroles, baked dips. Or where it gets pureed: thick soups, smoothies, souffles. I don’t know what would happen if you grilled or roasted it — maybe it wouldn’t dry out enough to make a difference — but if I had a lot of frozen asparagus to use up, I’d experiment with those methods, just to see.

Check our Recipe Finder and you’ll find dishes that will put your frozen asparagus to good use. A great candidate would be Asparagus and Aged Gouda Dip: The asparagus is cooked with wine and then baked with cheese, so soft spears should be fine.

Or try the Asparagus and Leek Soup With Lemon and Rosemary. The asparagus won’t seem as fresh, but the lemon juice will add brightness; also, the asparagus gets pureed, so texture isn’t a factor. You should adjust the timing; you won’t need to cook the asparagus the full 20 minutes to soften it (something to think about whenever you substitute frozen for fresh). You also can use Greek yogurt in place of the fromage blanc that’s called for; all the other ingredients can be found at any supermarket.

Our DIY columnist Cathy Barrow, a.k.a. Mrs. Wheelbarrow, has a suggestion for the next time you find yourself with some extra spears. She says: “To preserve asparagus, try pickling it! Eat it in season as often as possible and, if you’re like me, you will have had enough (almost) when the season ends. And then spend the next 10 months anticipating next year’s crop. Frozen asparagus can be added to soup, but it won’t taste like fresh.”

And here’s her recipe for pickled asparagus, which — it goes without saying — looks fabulous.