Asparagus is a wonderfully versatile vegetable and you can sauté it, steam it, boil it, or even grill it. This vegetable is rich enough in flavor to complement hearty meat dishes and delicate enough to go with fish. Asparagus is full of nutrients and bursting with delicious flavor.
How to Prepare Asparagus
Choose asparagus stalks, which are crisp and firm. The heads should be full and deep green or purplish. The bottoms should be moist. If they are very dry, the asparagus is not very fresh. Fresh asparagus lasts for three or four days. Do not wash it before storing it but do wash it just before cooking it.
Fire up the grill and make sure it is hot. Trim the bottom ends of the asparagus stalks to the part where the green fades. Do not remove the heads. Another method is to snap off the ends by holding the asparagus firmly and bending it until it breaks. If the spears are less than six inches, they might already be trimmed.
Rub olive oil over the rinsed and dried asparagus and sprinkle some seasonings on. Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper are good and you can use other spices too if you want. Garlic powder is especially nice with asparagus. Arrange the asparagus on the grill and cook it until it begins to get soft. Remove from the grill and serve hot.
It is a good idea to arrange the asparagus into a thick and thin ones. The thin ones will be done first and you can push these off the grill while the thick ones finish cooking.
How Long Do You Grill Asparagus?
When it is beginning to get tender, it is ready but you should allow about five minutes. Roll the asparagus ¼ of a turn every minute of its cooking time to ensure even results. It is normal for the asparagus to go brown in places and this is just the natural sugars caramelizing. Do not let it char though – brown is good but black is not! Dripping oil sometimes causes flare ups which can burn the food in seconds, so keep a water spray bottle handy just in case.
How to stop it Falling through the Grate
If you have wide spaces on your grill grate or you are using fine asparagus spears instead of thick ones, you might like to try this. Soak some wooden skewers in water for half an hour. Push the skewer through the asparagus about an inch from the end and repeat with five more asparagus spears. Make sure the asparagus spears are the same size so they cook easily.
Push another skewer through the other end of the asparagus, about an inch down. Your asparagus should look like a raft. Brush them with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over a medium heat, flipping once. Of course, arranging the asparagus perpendicular to the grill usually means they do not fall through but this is a great way to keep your precious asparagus safe from the coals!
You can grill asparagus until you feel that it is done. This vegetable can even be eaten raw so there is nothing wrong with al dente asparagus. If you prefer it softer, just give it an extra couple of minutes on the grill. Serve the asparagus hot. It is not bad form to eat asparagus with your fingers. In fact, some people claim this completes the eating experience!
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