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Grilled Asparagus
Recipe from Mark Peel

For grilling you need large, thick asparagus, not the very thin, "pencil" asparagus. Look at the tips to make sure the asparagus hasn't begun to flower. Blanching the asparagus with a quick dip in boiling salted water softens the stalks just enough for them to be pierced by the skewers without breaking; it also reduces the grilling time. It is easier to support and turn the asparagus if you use two skewers, soak them in water for half an hour before grilling to avoid burning.

Yield: Serves 6 as part of a 4 dish antipasto platter or 4 as a side dish.

  • 12 thick stalks asparagus (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt

Vinaigrette

  • 3 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp finely chopped shallots
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, toasted in a 350° oven until crisp (about 5 minutes)

Prepare a Barbecue Grill: Trim 1 to 2 inches off the large end of each asparagus or cut all the asparagus to 6 inches. Lightly peel the lower half to remove the thin outer layer of skin. Drop the asparagus into boiling salted water and boil for 1 minute. Drain and plunge into ice water for 2 to 3 minutes

Remove the asparagus from the water and lay 4 pieces close together, all in the same direction. Insert two skewers through all 4 stalks, a third of the way from each end, leaving a 1/2 inch space between the stalks. Repeat with the remaining asparagus. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Grill over hot coals, turning once, just long enough to color lightly and warm throughout, about 1 1/2 minutes on each side.

To make the vinaigrette, stir together the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots, salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter and spoon the vinaigrette on top. Sprinkle with toasted bread crumbs and serve.


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