How To Grill Asparagus Perfectly

To some, aka the supermarkets, the idea of seasonal produce is a thing of the past, something to be ridiculed along with small profit margins. To others, like you and me, there's nothing better than the anticipation of spring and a bumper crop of freshly cut asparagus.

I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Germany and there they go absolutely wild for it when the season starts which is May through the early part of June. I love it on the barbecue grill, it makes for a tasty and healthy lunch and here's how I like to prepare it.

Preparation starts with the trimming of the stalks because these can be a bit woody especially close to the root. I've seen many offer tips about shaving the bottom of the stalk to remove the woody exterior and the principle here is to ensure that your whole spear is the same thickness and therefore cooks in the same time. That's all well and good if your spear is tender all the way through but I find that rarely to be the case.

There's a better technique for ensuring that you have a spear that cooks all at the same time and that's to take the base between the thumb and forefinger on one hand and take the middle of the spear between the thumb and forefinger of your other hand. Now bend the spear, where it naturally breaks is the crossover point between a soft spear and the hard woody root.

It might seem that there's a lot of wastage doing it this way but for the first count, it works, and for the second, the bases make a great excuse for cream of asparagus soup.

Now that you've got your perfect spears my favorite way to grill asparagus is first to marinade in a mix of olive oil, lemon juice and chopped garlic. You don't need much marinade, just enough to toss the spears and after 5 minutes, you're ready to grill.

Asparagus is the perfect veggie for any grill, you don't have to be outside, an indoor grill or serrated grill pan all make ideal cooking implements. In addition it's always best to have a set of tongs handy.

Just brush the grill surface lightly with some of your marinade and then lay the asparagus across. In my view asparagus should be served al dente, in other words softened but still lightly crunchy and to get this you need to grill for about 5 minutes and no more. You'll know the spear is ready because it will have turned a richer and darker shade of green and if you pick one up it will be slightly limp (not completely wilted). Certainly the last thing you want to see is a soggy tip to the spear.

When cooked, toss again in the original marinade and serve immediately with another drizzle of live oil just to bring out the colors. If done properly it's so easy and delightful to taste but be warned, it's also so easy to over-cook so take care and remember, 5 minutes is all it takes.

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