I can never resist picking up a bundle of asparagus at the grocery, especially when they’re bright green and delicately stalked. It’s the vegetable of kings, royally delicious when hot and crunchy and lightly seasoned with garlic or pepper. In the past I had the unfortunate tendency to let them cook themselves while paying attention to some other thing, with the icky result of drab, limp stems. The only way to salvage them at this point is to make asparagus soup. Not what the Sun King had in mind.
So as part of my Food Plate-inspired-vegetable rehab I gave some thought the best ways to properly prepare asparagus to consistently get hot and bright green with a bit of crunch. Paying attention, helps, sure. Some magazine or another suggested tossing the stalks with olive oil and grilling right on the barbeque. Five minutes at about 500 degrees; perfect every time:
Newly creative and inspired, I improvised a wonderful asparagus salad with toasted pine nuts, crispy prosciutto, grated parmesan cheese, and lemon pepper. I’ve already made it three times this month; once with grilled chicken, once with steamed tilapia, and once as an entree with a baguette and cheese fondue.
All you have to do is:
- Trim just the white ends from a pound of asparagus.
- Drizzle with olive oil.
- Place stalks directly on a hot grill. Turn occasionally until they get grill marks.
- Cut stalks into 2″ pieces and place in a bowl.
- Now toast 1/4 cup pine nuts until lightly browned (in the broiler or on a flat iron on the grill. Pay attention. They cook FAST.)
- Next fry 3 slices of prosciutto (again, broiler or flat iron) and let cool so they get crispy.
You get the picture now. Take your bowl of grilled and cut asparagus:
Add the pine nuts:
and finally the prosciutto:
Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly ground pepper, toss lightly, and you’re ready to go.
Here’s a printed version:
- 1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed off
- olive oil
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 oz (about 3 slices) prosciutto
- lemon pepper
- Preheat your barbeque to 500 degrees.
- Arrange asparagus on a plat and drizzle with olive oil.
- Transfer asparagus stalks directly onto your hot grill.
- Cook for about 5 minutes, turn occasionally as they get grill marks.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Next toast ¼ cup pine nuts until lightly browned (in the broiler or on a flat iron on the grill. Pay attention. They cook FAST - 1 or 2 minutes is fine)
- Fry proscuitto (under the broiler on a flat iron flat iron) and let cool.
- Cut asparagus into 2" pieces.
- Combine asparagus, pine nuts, and crumbled prosciutto in a bowl.
- Toss with lemon pepper and another drizzle of olive oil.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.