I hope this recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad will inspire you to devote more real estate on your grill to vegetables. I realize burgers may be the first thing you think of when you fire up the grill. Charred steaks and grilled seafood are natural choices too. But live fire can really transform vegetables in ways that other methods of cooking just can’t. Grilling vegetables enhances and intensifies their natural flavor, causing the sugars to caramelize and giving a crisp outside and a soft center. Take asparagus – even thin woody stalks can go from coarse to creamy when cooked over high heat.
There’s no secret trick to getting great grilled asparagus. All you really needs is a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and excellent sea salt. However, sometimes it’s fun to experiment with creative contrasts of flavor and texture. This Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad is an example of that philosophy. Shellfish and asparagus may seem unexpected, but I think they’re natural partners. Both are delicate enough in flavor to avoid overpowering each other on the plate. To keep this natural affinity interesting I’ve also added a sweet and sour touch of heat in the form of pickled mustard seeds, which is a terrific condiment with all things grilled, charred, or roasted.
But if expensive lump crab and a high-calorie butter sauce doesn’t fit into your plans, or if you’ve really got your belly set on Saturday night grilled steak then I’ve got another idea. While the meat rests and the fire is still hot, put those coals to good use and grill up some asparagus for later in the week. The asparagus will keep nicely in the refrigerator. Then after that stressful Monday you know is coming, all you need to do is plump a few raisins in your favorite warm vinaigrette then toss them together with those grilled asparagus spears. If you’ve got leftover steak all the better. Either way, you’ll have another creative contrast of flavors without having to spark up the grill. GREG