If you heart grilled asparagus as a summer side dish, you know what makes it popular: speed (both in the prep and the cooking), good looks, and great taste. Dress it up with lemon zest, a few Parmesan shavings, or some prosciutto slices, and it’s a fine foil to any grilled main. Often, barbecuers dump the spears on the grate and forget them until they’re limp, overcooked, and unloved. Instead, show you care.
Look for bright-green, firm stalks with no depressing droop when held horizontally. The tips should be tightly closed, and the cut ends should be crack free. For grilling, thick stalks are best.
Blanch it greener
A blanched spear grills evenly and stays greener. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, and fill a bowl with cold water and ice cubes. Drop the trimmed stalks in the boiling water. When they’re bright green and barely tender (no more than 2 minutes), chill them in the ice bath. Drain and refrigerate them until you’re ready to grill.
Toss the spears in a simple mix of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper before grilling. Don’t skimp; a little extra will come in handy soon.
Kiss with flame
Grill asparagus over high, direct heat with the lid open. Then, for an incendiary boost, pour the remaining vinaigrette over the spears and stand back. The flame will flare instantly in a hot, passionate kiss that will give the asparagus colour and flavour.