Grilling Asparagus

Preparing Asparagus | Grilling Asparagus | Asparagus Tips

Preparing Asparagus for Grilling

Rinse asparagus under cold running water to remove any dirt or sand from the stalks and tips before beginning preparation. Do not wash until ready to use.

Begin preparing the asparagus by simply trimming off the bottom ends of the stalks. Find the area where the green color begins to fade. This is where the tough woody end begins and is where the stalk should be trimmed off. Do not remove the spears at the top of the stalk.
An alternative method is to snap off the asparagus ends. Hold an asparagus spear firmly towards the end and bend it until it breaks naturally. The spear should break at the point where it becomes tough.
After removing the ends, the stalks will be varying lengths. Keep this in mind when considering your presentation. If it is important that the spears be the same length, line them up flush at the top and trim them off at the bottom so that they are all the same length. If appearance is not critical, do not trim to even lengths because this ends up wasting some of the good asparagus spear.
To prepare spears that are thick and have tough skin, cut off the ends as shown above and peel the skin with an asparagus peeler.
A regular vegetable peeler can also be used to peel the stalks. Do not peel the tips. Younger, thinner asparagus generally are tender enough that they do not require peeling. White asparagus have a tougher stem and should always be peeled.

Grilling Asparagus

When grilling asparagus, avoid using the spears with thick stalks. The thicker spears tend to burn on the outside before they are cooked to the proper tenderness. If the asparagus is fairly thick, it may be a good idea to blanch the spears before grilling so that the outsides do not burn before the inside of the stalk is done. To blanch, place asparagus into boiling salt water for 1 minute. Remove the asparagus. Submerge asparagus into cold water and remove immediately to prevent further cooking. Pat it dry with a paper towel before applying oil.

Have the grill heated to a medium heat.

Clean the asparagus by rinsing under cold water and the pat dry with a paper towel.

Lay the asparagus out on a plate or cookie sheet and drizzle with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil.

Roll the spears back and forth so that the entire stalk is coated. Sprinkle the coated asparagus lightly with salt.

Place the asparagus on the grill so that the stalks are perpendicular to the grates on the grill so that they do not fall through them. Leave a little space between stalks.
Grill the asparagus for 5 or 6 minutes, turning them slightly every few minutes to provide even grilling.
When done, the asparagus should have delicious caramelized brown spots and a crisp tender texture. The spears should be browned but not charred. Do not overcook the asparagus.
Tip: For easier grilling and visual appeal, skewer 6 or 7 spears crosswise, in two places. Insert the skewers just below the tips and 1 to 2 inches from the bottom. It is best to leave a bit of space between the asparagus stalks. The skewers make it easier when placing on the grill, turning the spears, and removing the asparagus from the grill. If using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water before using.

For more information on asparagus, see All About Asparagus.

Asparagus Tips

  • 1 pound of fresh asparagus equals 16 to 20 spears, 3 cups trimmed, or 2 1/2 cups of cooked asparagus.
  • Do not overcook asparagus. Overcooking will deplete its flavor and cause it to be mushy.
  • If you need to store asparagus for more than 3 days, store them loose so that air can circulate through the spears, discouraging mould from developing.
  • Limp asparagus can be refreshed by trimming off the ends of the stalks and placing it stalk side down into a glass holding 1 1/2 to 2 inches of cold water, place a plastic bag over the tops and then store in the refrigerator for approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

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