This is a fine way to cook and serve asparagus, if the asparagus is fresh and a grill is handy. The simple combination of the fresh asparagus and the direct heat from the fire seems to create a perfect taste.

NOTEWORTHY: White asparagus is the exact same vegetable as the more common green variety. As the sprout starts to erupt from the surface of the soil, the farmer covers it with a mound of dirt or straw to prevent sunlight from reaching the stalk. Because the plant is protected from sunlight, chlorophyll never forms.That’s what makes it white, and that’s also what makes the pale stalks so tender. Though the taste is slightly milder, white asparagus can be substituted in any of these recipes. To make a visually interesting plate, try using a mix of both green and white in the same recipe.

Ingredients

SERVES 4

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled, and soaked

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Instructions

Make certain the grill has been brushed clean, then heat it to its hottest temperature.

Crack the peppercorns in a pepper mill set to the coarsest grind or use a mortar and pestle. You want them very coarsely cracked.

Warm a wide glass or ceramic platter. Heat a small cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Put the cracked peppercorns into it and toast them for 2 to 3 minutes, then set the pan nearby. (Heating the peppercorns brings out their fire, and they look wonderful scattered around the asparagus.)

Set the asparagus in a shallow pan and pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them, flipping the spears so they are coated on all sides with the oil. Salt them well, adding a couple grinds of pepper from the mill.

Using a cloth or a wad of paper towels held with tongs, swipe some olive oil from the roasting pan and rub it on the grill grates. Lay the asparagus across the grill, near but not on the center of the heat. With a spatula and tongs, turn the spears after 1 minute, then again after 30 seconds, and then again 30 seconds later.

The asparagus should have slight char marks and show some shrinking, but still be near firm. Lay the spears on the warmed platter and drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Immediately dot the spears with the vinegar, if using. Finish with the toasted cracked peppercorns and a touch more salt.

 

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As featured in the Spring issue of Beekman 1802 Almanac Magazine. For more check out FIVE WAYS TO COOK ASPARAGUS AND OTHER RECIPES. Copyright © 2016 by Peter Miller. Published by Abrams, LLC

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