I love grilled asparagus. I love picking the slightly charred spears and eating them like french fries. I'll go so far to say that grilling might be the ideal way to prepare asparagus. I happen to feel THAT strongly about it. Really, other than lightly dousing them with oil, salt and a little cracked pepper, and then tossing them on a grill (or grill pan) you don't have to do anything and yet the results are elegant and delicious.
Of couse, sometimes the occasion calls for a little added adornment. Last year for Easter, Annie and I did some grilled asparagus which we served with what I thought was a fantastic vinaigrette made of caramelized shallots. For some reason Annie was a little meh on the vinaigrette, so this year I suggested we try this recipe, which I found in Michelle Cranston's fantastic book Zest.
2 slices of bread (We used thick slices of a mini ciabatta loaf)
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 organic lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 oz unsalted butter
1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the bread into a food processor along with the garlic, salt, thyme, rosemary, lemon zest, and olive oil. Pulse until roughly chopped into bread crumbs. I doubt store bought bread crumbs would work here. They are usually way too fine. Scatter the crumbs onto a shallow tray and bake in the oven until golden brown, which should only take a couple minutes or so.
Next, put the lemon juice in a small saucepan over a medium heat and whisk in the butter. Remove from the heat once the butter is melted.
Meanwhile, trim the woody ends of the asparagus. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and a little pepper. Place on a grill pan over high heat and cook for a couple minutes, until the asparagus gets grill marks on them. Using tongs, flip the asparagus and cook the other side. If you don't have a grill pan, then go out and get one. You seriously NEED one. If for some reason you do not heed my advise, the asparagus can be steamed or boiled or roasted or micromwaved or however you prefer to cook them.
To serve, place the asparagus on a platter, sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan and then drizzle with the warm lemon butter sauce and serve immediately.
As perfect as plain grilled asparagus is, these herbed bread crumbs make it just little bit better. Okay, first of all, how can you not love anything with rosemary and thyme? The simple addition of the bread crumbs and the parmesan just coat each spear with a beautiful, crisp, light texture while the lemon butter enhances the freshness.
I defy you to name me one vegetable that doesn't benefit from the addition of bread and cheese.