For many, grilled asparagus is one of the highlights of spring and summer meals. A few tips can make preparing grilled asparagus easy. First of all, it is important to start with asparagus that is fresh and properly trimmed. The grill should be cleaned and preheated, and the asparagus should be oiled to prevent sticking. Finally, the asparagus should be arranged on the grill properly, and should be turned as needed until it is cooked.
Two of the most important steps in making grilled asparagus are taken before the cooking process even begins. First of all, for the best taste, it is important to choose the freshest asparagus available. Look for tips that are tightly closed, and avoid bunches with ends that are visibly dry and shriveled. The tough end of an asparagus stalk is usually inedible. To make the vegetable easy to eat, it is therefore helpful to trim away these ends prior to cooking.
After trimming, the next step in preparing grilled asparagus is heating the grill. Gas grills need to be preheated approximately five to 10 minutes before cooking is to begin, while charcoal grills can require as long as 30 minutes for preheating. To keep asparagus stalks from sticking during cooking, it is also helpful to clean the grate with a grill brush at this time.
While the grill is preheating, the asparagus should be oiled and seasoned. Applying olive oil to asparagus before grilling can discourage sticking, lend flavor, and also help the stalks retain moisture. Sprinkling the stalks with salt, pepper, or other simple seasonings can enhance their taste. To oil and season asparagus, lay it in a single layer on a platter. Apply a drizzle of oil and a pinch of seasoning and then turn the stalks until they are coated.
Once the asparagus and the grill are prepared, it is time to begin cooking. Using tongs, the asparagus should be laid out so that it is perpendicular to the grill’s grates. This technique prevents the asparagus from falling through the grates, and also creates visually pleasing grill marks on the stalks.
The final step in making grilled asparagus is turning the stalks until they are adequately cooked on all sides. Generally, asparagus takes approximately five minutes to cook through on the grill. For best results, many professional cooks advise using tongs to rotate the stalks approximately one-quarter turn every minute. Ideally, grilled asparagus should have grill marks that are brown, not black.