Asparagus, my mother used to say, is an acquired taste. Judging by its popularity over the centuries, however, my mother may have been wrong. Or a lot of people have acquired the taste!
Over 3,000 years ago, Egyptian art depicted trays of asparagus. The ancient Syrians, Greeks, Spaniards, Indians, Asians, and Romans all loved asparagus. Emperor Caesar Augustus was so fond of asparagus that he commissioned a fleet to carry it back to Rome for his dining pleasure. He coined a phrase, “Faster than cooking asparagus,” to indicate you should get yourself moving quickly!
Asparagus is addictively tasty when cooked on the grill, and it all starts with the visit to the grocery store.
Just why is asparagus so healthy?
The ancients used asparagus as a medicine. They were onto something. It’s so good for you! Asparagus has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer benefits. This underrated veggie is great for your digestion and your heart.
Keep your system operating smoothly. Check out these foods that will promote digestive health!
Asparagus also produces folate, which helps to prevent brain decline. Its diuretic properties help to wash out contaminants from the body. Studies suggest it decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
In addition, it produces loads of oxygen while growing, so it’s good for the environment as well!
Kefir is another probiotic favored by the ancients. Learn how you can make it at home with the best strainer for kefir grains!
How to select best asparagus for grilling.
Asparagus doesn’t travel well. Augustus had runners to take his stalks high in the Alps to flash freeze them. I suggest you just buy fresh. Try to buy local asparagus, if possible. Your grocery should store it standing up on ice.
Look at the bottom of the bundle of asparagus. Pick a bundle with pretty uniform stalks, and avoid the bundles with dry, woody, splitting bottoms. Those are older and have been cut for a while. Look for tight tips, not tips that are limp or flowering. The color should be bright green or have a slight violet hue.
Thick or thin stalks have different merits. As asparagus grows, it gets thicker. Thin stalks are tender, but thick stalks have a meaty texture and a stronger taste. For grilling, thick stalks really offer some great flavor. Thin stalks will make for tender, tender eating. It’s your choice, and it’s a hard one!
How do I store it?
Once you return from the store with your find, cut the ends, just as you would flower stalks. Store your asparagus in a tall cup of water in your refrigerator, like you would celery. You can also wrap the bottoms in a damp paper towel and store in a zippered plastic bag in the refrigerator. Cook as close to your purchase date, if not that same day, as possible. As soon as asparagus is picked, the sugar starts to deteriorate, so the closer to picking the better.
Preparing your asparagus.
Hold the stalk at both ends and bend until the stalk snaps at its tender spot. This is where the green color starts to fade.
Rinse the asparagus spears and let them dry on a paper towel.
Meanwhile, finely mince a few cloves of garlic.
Put the stalks into a pan and drizzle all over with olive oil. Roll them back and forth with the palm of your hand to coat with the oil.
Sprinkle with kosher salt, ground pepper, and the minced garlic. Allow the spears to marinate for a few minutes while the grill heats.
Do you worry about the environmental impact of using paper towels? Find out about the best eco-friendly paper towel brands.
Make sure your grill rack is clean. Heat the grill to high, then turn down to medium.
Place the spears in the middle of the grill. Grill for about 5 to 6 minutes and remove to a plate. Turn the spears a few times during cooking to get an even grilled color. When cooked, the spears should have brown spots and an overall browned color, but should not be charred. They should be crisp, but tender.
Asparagus shouldn’t be overcooked, so when you think they’re close to done, pull one off and try it.
Please practice proper grill safety, and use oven mitts when cooking on the grill!
Grilled asparagus is great just as it is, but try this!
Mix a little warm butter with a drop of olive oil, some lemon zest, and a little lemon juice. Pile the asparagus high, drop the lemon butter on the top, and prepare for some good eating.
Another delicious option is to prepare a topping ahead of time. Melt some butter over medium heat, add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper, and brown the breadcrumbs slightly. When you remove the asparagus from the grill to a plate, top with the browned bread crumbs and a dash of parmesan cheese.
Serve it up with a cold brew and see for yourself why asparagus was so beloved by emperors and kings!
Grill all the things!
Other veggies want to be grilled, too! See my review of the best basket for grilling veggies and add some variety to the mix! You might also be interested in this article on how to clean and cut Brussels sprouts, which also taste great grilled.
Carnivores might also want to check out this recipe for a meaty, main course. Check out this recipe for delicious grilled pork loin!
Asparagus is great for cleaning out waste from your body. Is your garbage disposal doing the same for your kitchen waste? Check out my review of the best garbage disposal under $100!