Grilled Asparagus​

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I owe my kids an apology. Well, the two younger ones anyway, who never learned to like asparagus. See, I grew up eating asparagus steamed. Plain. I loved it that way, but in retrospect, I realize that’s pretty much the way my mom cooked nearly all vegetables, and not necessarily because it was the best way. She was an excellent cook, but vegetables weren’t her favorites, so she focused her attention elsewhere.

When I inherited a 50-crown asparagus patch (enough for a small army) from my husband’s grandfather, I steamed plain asparagus nearly every night, all season long. It just never occurred to me to cook it any other way. My eldest liked it, but the other two did not. In my defense, with 3 kids and a challenging career, dinner was usually quick and simple — in both the planning and the execution. I didn’t really get into more varied cooking until the kids were a little older and I was no longer working. Much of that asparagus patch has been choked out by weeds, though there are still a few crowns producing after nearly thirty years. The same physical issues that interrupted my career made it impossible to get down on my hands and knees to properly care for a garden, especially one that big.  

Asparagus, like tomatoes and corn, is an entirely different vegetable when picked fresh right before dinner instead of harvested immature, stored, shipped, stuck in a warehouse, sent to a store, bought, and taken home. I missed it! So a couple of years ago, our neighbor came over with his backhoe and dug me a new patch. This one’s much smaller and more manageable. With some straw mulch and vegetable-safe pre-emergent weed control, I’m much better able to keep up with it.  

One low-spoon* night when I was grilling steak, it occurred to me that it would be a lot easier to just throw the asparagus on the grill instead of getting out a pan (which would then need to be washed) to steam it. I know, I know, everyone else has known about grilled asparagus forever. What can I say? It was a blind spot of mine; my eyes are now open! This is so easy, so fast, and so delicious, I really feel sorry for my kids that I never cooked it like this when they were growing up. They might have an entirely different opinion about asparagus if I had. Sorry, kids! 

* The Spoon Theory is an analogy of what it is like to live with sickness or disability.

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Ingredients: 

18 medium-to-large asparagus spears, about 1 pound (454 g)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

⅛ teaspoon Penzeys or Diamond Crystal kosher salt (You can substitute another brand, but the nutrition information will change.)

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

1.) Wash the asparagus, pat it dry, and snap off the tough bottom part of the stalk.

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2.) Brush the olive oil over the asparagus spears. I usually do this with my clean, bare hands. It’s easier to thoroughly coat the spears, and the oil is good for your skin. And when the spears are well-coated, it’s not necessary to brush the grill with additional oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper.

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3.) Preheat the grill on high. Lay the spears crosswise, so they don’t fall through. Close the lid and grill for two minutes.

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4.) Turn the spears, then cook another two minutes. Adjust your time a bit down if your spears are slender, up if they’re thick. Asparagus is done when a spear held in the middle just bends a bit. If it’s just as stiff as when you picked it, it isn’t ready. If it forms a frowny face (an upside-down U), you’ve overcooked it. 

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Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients

18 medium-to-large asparagus spears, about 1 pound (454 g)

2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

⅛ teaspoon Penzeys or Diamond Crystal kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

Directions

1.) Wash the asparagus, pat it dry, and snap off the tough bottom part of the stalk.

2.) Brush the olive oil over the asparagus spears. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. 

3.) Preheat the grill on high. Lay the spears crosswise, so they don’t fall through. Close the lid and grill for two minutes.

4.) Turn the spears, then cook another two minutes. Adjust your time a bit down if your spears are slender, up if they’re thick. Asparagus is done when a spear held in the middle just bends a bit. If it’s just as stiff as when you picked it, it isn’t ready. If it forms a frowny face (an upside-down U), you’ve overcooked it. 

 

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