Today's dish is so simple that it hardly merits being called a "recipe." But it's so good that it bears discussion, just in case the idea of throwing a few stalks of asparagus on the charcoal grill hadn't yet occurred to you.
The peak of fresh asparagus season coming as it does in happy coincidence with the return of outdoor grilling season makes this one a natural for springtime. The flavors are delicious - grilling adds that delicious smoky nuance, while the process seems to concentrate and intensify the natural flavor of asparagus in a way that mere steaming can't match. And the procedure, as noted, is quick and simple, requiring only a reasonable amount of attention during the grilling process to ensure that your veggies don't burn.
A similar approach will work with many vegetables, of course. Grilling is an outstanding alternative for eggplant, red or green bell peppers, fresh fennel, thick-sliced onions and many more. But do try it sometime soon with fresh, crisp spears of green asparagus. If you haven't sampled this treat before, you'll thank me.INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
1 pound fresh green asparagus
1. Fire up your grill. I won't get into the charcoal-vs.-gas wars today, but suffice it to say that for me this means light your charcoal and give it plenty of time, 20 to 30 minutes or until the coals are hot and covered with a light gray ash. I like to use chunk charcoal and a "chimney" starter, avoiding the kerosene aromas of starter fluid.
2. Wash and dry the asparagus. Snap off and discard the woody end of each spear (or, if you're feeling thrifty, save them to simmer in a vegetable stock). Put the asparagus on a plate, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with plenty of salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and turn them until every stalk is well coated.
3. When the coals are ready, put the asparagus on the grill, directly over the coals. (For safety's sake, I like to use a grill-top screen to help keep the spears from falling through, but if you take care to keep the spears perpendicular to the slots in the grill, you should be OK.) Grill until they're cooked through but still crisp-tender, turning them once or twice so they brown on all sides. I find that 5 minutes over a hot fire is plenty, but this may vary depending on your coals and the thickness of the spears. Consider a taste-test or two as the chef's reward. Remove to a warm plate and serve them hot.
VARIATION: Try seasoning the asparagus with other interesting spices before grilling. Cumin, paprika, a judicious dash of cayenne or Asian "Five Spice" would all be worth a try (but probably not all at once!) Or add a sprinkle of fresh minced herbs - tarragon, thyme, even cilantro - just before serving. I would keep it simple, though: The simple purity of fresh grilled asparagus with just a little good olive oil, salt and pepper is mighty hard to improve on.
WINE MATCH: Unless you're of a mind to simply gorge on spring asparagus, I see this as a side dish and would choose my wine to match the main course. But if you like to experiment with food-and-wine matching, I'd think of a "green," herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc as a natural companion.
PRINT OUT A COPY OF THIS RECIPE:
DISCUSS COOKING IN OUR ONLINE FORUM:
Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)
Let us hear from you!
If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note at email@example.com. I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can.
Of course you also have a standing invitation to participate in our interactive Food Lovers' Discussion Group. To participate in this friendly online community, simply click to
Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives
Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Pancakes for dinner! (April 29)
Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
This is The 30 Second Wine Advisor's weekly FoodLetter. To subscribe or unsubscribe, change your E-mail address, or for any other administrative matters, please use the individualized hotlink found at the end of your E-mail edition. If this is not practical, contact me by E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, including the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so I can find your record.Thursday, May 6, 2004
Copyright 2004 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
Subscribe to the 30 Second Wine Advisor