Certain ingredients define the season, and for me, asparagus means it’s finally Spring. I love nothing better than grilled asparagus. You can serve it hot, straight from the grill, or serve it room temperature, or even chilled. Grilling imparts a haunting, smoky flavor while diminishing the grassiness of the Spring stalk.
I peel the stalks of thick asparagus for two reasons. My friend and culinary mentor, Barbara Pool Fenzl, insists that asparagus should be peeled. Credit her French training or her friend, Jacques Pepin, who also believes peeling is essential.
Peeling allows you to keep more of the stalk, which on thick asparagus can sometimes be woody near the end. It also makes a prettier presentation. Here’s a recipe for grilling asparagus. I’ve used a lemon garlic marinade, but you can use any flavoring, or none at all.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic
1-1/2 pounds thick speared asparagus
2 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil (lemon flavored if you have it)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Trim asparagus to even lengths, then peel from just below the flowered tip. Place the asparagus in a shallow baking pan. Whisk together the remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the asparagus, tossing to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes up to 2 hours.
Heat the grill to medium-high (375-400 degrees). Drain the asparagus and discard the marinade. Place the asparagus on the grill. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes, moving the asparagus around a bit on the grill with tongs. Remove when the asparagus is still crisp tender, but shows signs of grill marks. Serve warm, or room temperature.