Friday, March 18, 2011

Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

I feel almost guilty for posting this recipe. It's so easy! But it's so good. And I know there are people out there who are still a little afraid of asparagus. There's no need to be!

I love grilling vegetables. The preparation (and cooking skill) needed is minimal, and the end product always smells so appealing. If you're planning on introducing someone to a new vegetable, I would highly recommend grilling! And this is my favorite way to serve asparagus.

When choosing asparagus, I look for nice, tight, clean-looking tips. I also like the stalk to be fresh, green, and crisp. I prefer thinner pieces of asparagus, just because they're more tender, but the thicker stalks are really great for grilling.

Rinse the asparagus under some cold water if it looks particularly dirty--and be sure to dry it well afterward.

Next, you'll want to get rid of the "wood"-y base. It can be tough to chew. Some people lop the whole bottom off the asparagus. I like to bend the asparagus gently until it snaps.

And you'll probably also use two hands to do the snapping! It's hard to take pictures of things that require two hands!

Anyhow, after the stalk snaps you'll be left with a top and a bottom. You could save the bottom for soup or soup stock, if you wanted.

Set the asparagus in a large Ziploc bag. Now we can start on the marinade!

The marinade starts with three cloves of garlic. I love garlic. A lot. If you don't love garlic as much, you could definitely use less.

Give the garlic a rough mince. Then throw it in the bag with the asparagus.

The marinade is flavored with balsamic vinegar. It uses a quarter cup, which seems like a lot, but I like to make sure each piece of asparagus gets the chance to soak in some flavor.

Pour in some olive oil.

A little honey cuts some of the vinegar's acid-y bite. It will also help the asparagus caramelize on the grill.

Don't forget the salt and pepper!

Seal the bag and give it a few good rolls and tosses to mix everything up. Let the asparagus marinate for at least 30 minutes.

When you're ready, preheat your grill on high. Grill the asparagus for a few minutes per side, or until cooked to the done-ness you prefer (I know some people like it to retain some crunch, while others just love floppy asparagus.)

Serve with a nice piece of grilled meat or cut it up and toss with other grilled veggies and some cous cous, rice pilaf, or polenta for a healthy and delicious vegetarian dinner!

Recipe: Balsamic Grilled Asparagus

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed
3 cloves garlic, roughly minced
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. honey
salt and pepper, to taste

Clean asparagus and trim rough ends.

In a large Ziploc bag, combine garlic, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, honey, and salt and pepper. Add asparagus. Toss bag around to combine ingredients and let asparagus marinate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Grill over high heat until asparagus is cooked to your liking.

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