Grilling season and asparagus season serendiptiously kick off around the same time. And we say “serendipitously” because asparagus loves the grill. The subtle and complex sweetness of asparagus is only enhanced by the slight bitterness of a good char. So with that in mind, we decided to compile a list of our top tips for grilling with asparagus.
Treat your Asparagus like the Main Event
Asparagus season is a short one, so make the most of it. Treat your asparagus like a prime cut and get creative with rubs, marinades, and sauces. Asparagus, like a good steak, doesn’t need much to shine. A little olive oil and salt and pepper will get it where it needs to go. But for the sake of variety, why not play a little. Try using your favorite BBQ rub instead of the usual S&P. Or experiment with a marinade, like the one we used for the Asapragus Teriyaki. Asparagus loves a marinade just as much as meat and it takes half the time to reach its prime. Plus, you can reuse the marinade or cook it down into a tasty sauce.
Keep it Hot
Grill asparagus over direct heat and keep it hot. Your grill’s hot zone should be between 350-400°F. We want the asparagus to get a nice char going before it’s reduced to mush. No matter how you’re cooking it, asparagus should be tender but retain some of it’s bite. Asparagus cooks quite quickly especially on the grill, so don’t wander away once it’s on there.
No Spear Left Behind
One the most common pitfalls of grilling asparagus is losing one or two through the grates of your grill. Now, if you’re working with broader, beefier stalks this is less likely to happen. But even in this scenario it pays to arrange the asparagus perpendicular to the bars of your grill. If you’re working with super skinny spears, it may be better to chop them into thirds and sauté them in a BBQ basket. Same great smoky flavor but without the fear of loosing too many spears to the coals. And if you’re very nervous about keep your asparagus on the grill, try skewering them like we did for our Asparagus Teriyaki. The skewers will help keep them in place and give you something to grab with your tongs if they start to slip.
It’s all About Timing
Cooking, like comedy, is all about timing and this is particularly true for quick-cooking items like asparagus. Make sure the asparagus is one of the last things you cook. The rest of the meal should be more or less ready to serve before the asparagus hits the grill. Not only does asparagus cook quickly, it also moves past its prime quickly. So going directly from the grill to the plate yields the best results.
Written by Susan of Rhub and Cod