It’s so funny how kids develop certain ways of eating certain foods without rhyme or reason. When I was a kid, the only way to eat asparagus was to eat the bloom-like spear heads first before eating the long woodsy shoots. I felt so rebellious, like a child who insisted on eating dessert first. I find it somewhat ironic that my own children insist on eating only the shoots. They find the heads disgusting. I don’t get it, don’t they realize the tops are the best part? It’s like eating the outside of a cinnamon roll only to leave the gooey center on the plate because you find it disgusting. To each their own.
Lately, I’ve seen an abundance of asparagus on sale everywhere, which is always a great incentive for me to pick up a few bunches. My preferred method of preparing asparagus is by grilling them with a little olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. I’ll serve them alongside grilled salmon, chicken, or steak with a side of roasted potatoes or brown rice. Keeping it simple is how I like to cook. But there are occasions when I will want to mix it up a little bit. Sometimes I will squeeze fresh lemon juice over asparagus just off the grill. Other times I like to add Nicoise Olive Sea Salt, one of my most treasured flavored salts by Secret Stash Salt.
But last night I was browsing through Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love: Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes just before it was time to make dinner. When I saw her recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Syrup, it was just the inspiration I needed to jazz up my usual grilled asparagus with very little extra work.
After grilling the asparagus to a crunchy yet but cooked texture, I plated it and drizzled just a little bit of the balsamic vinegar reduction over everything. It added just enough zing with a slight sweet undertone to compliment my grilled asparagus perfectly. Within three minutes of setting my vegetable plate down, all the asparagus disappeared. And in case you’re wondering whether or not my kids ate the spears whole, they still left the tops on their plate. But don’t worry, I took care of them without the slightest bit of guilt or hesitation. If they’re okay with it, I’m okay with it… even though it was like taking candy from a baby.
Here’s the recipe I used last night. I barely adapted it from Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love cookbook released last week. My thoughts about this gorgeous cookbook justifies a separate post I plan on publishing later this week. So stay tuned!
- 2 bunches asparagus, trimmed, rinsed, and dried
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar syrup (recipe below)
- Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Coat the asparagus with olive oil using your hands. Season with salt and pepper. Coat the grill with olive oil. Spread asparagus across the grill and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the asparagus over and cook for an additional 3 minutes or until asparagus is slightly crunchy, not soft.
- Remove from grill and transfer to a platter. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar syrup over the asparagus before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- **Balsamic Syrup Instructions: While asparagus is cooking, prepare the balsamic syrup by cooking ½ cup balsamic vinegar on medium heat until it thickens and forms a syrup like consistency, about 3-4 minutes. Be careful not to let it thicken too much or it will turn into black goop.
- ***To roast the asparagus in the oven, follow the instructions above except cook the asparagus in a preheated 450 degree oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes.