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Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad

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

Pickled Mustard SeedsGrilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad

Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4-6Source Inspired by Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez DentonPublished
Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 2 cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup unsalted butter (cut into 8 even slices)
  • kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (as needed for seasoning)
  • 1 ½ pound thin to medium thick asparagus (woody ends trimmed)
  • 2-3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1-2 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoon minced fresh chives (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (plus more for garnish)
  • 8 ounce cooked lump crab meat (carefully inspected for shell)
  • 1-2 tablespoon pickled mustard seeds (optional, see recipe)

Directions

Make the sauce: In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the shallot and wine and boil over high heat until reduced to ½ cup, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter 1 slice at a time making sure each addition is emulsified before adding more; season with salt and pepper. Set aside in a warm place.

Grill the asparagus: Place the asparagus on a flat surface and drizzle with the olive oil then roll the asparagus to coat on all sides. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat, turning frequently until just cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on thickness. Transfer to a serving dish and keep warm.

To serve: Gently reheat the butter sauce without boiling. Add lemon zest, cayenne, chives, dill, and crab. Fold gently until crab is just heated through. Spoon the herbed crab over the warm asparagus. Garnish with additional herbs and pickled mustard seeds (if using).

Pickled Mustard Seeds

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1 cupSource Naomi PomeroyPublished
Pickled Mustard Seeds

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • ½ cup whole mustard seeds
  • 1 clove peeled garlic

Directions

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 35 minutes, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of syrup (but is not as thick as honey). Let cool, transfer to a nonreactive airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 1 month.

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