Springtime is one of my favourite seasons in the UK, and that’s mostly down to that brief window of time when asparagus is harvested locally. Everyone goes mad for it, and with good reason, but what confuses me is how dull its preparations often are. Soggy and limp. Drowned in butter. Don’t forget the fried egg on top.
For a vegetable that takes so little effort to prepare beautifully, it shocks me how much chefs not only insist on steaming and boiling, but also that they continue to fall back on adding animal protein for flavour and texture. Adding dairy and eggs to liven up asparagus is a lazy cop out. Cook it to stand on its own and it will be the star of your plate.
Grilled Asparagus with Lemon
This chargrilled asparagus preparation hardly seems worthy to be called a recipe, but it’s guaranteed to please. All too often this springtime treat is overcooked, soggy, and its flavour underwhelming. Charring asparagus in a dry (no fat) and very hot pan brings out a nutty flavour that might convince you to never steam or boil asparagus ever again. Serve with long grain garlic rice and a slab of your favourite cooked seitan, or add it last minute into risotto.
- Asparagus spears
- Fresh lemon
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Flaked sea salt or kosher salt
- liquid smoke (optional)
- Heat a grill pan to high heat. Once the pan is very hot, throw the asparagus spears on and press with the back of a spatula or with a grill press. After about a minute, turn the spears over and repeat. Do not add any oil to the pan to grill the asparagus. Spritz with liquid smoke for added flavour (optional). Do not cook the asparagus for more than 2-3 minutes.
- Remove to a plate and drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a pinch or three of flaked sea salt.