Recipe by Chef Michael Smith
During grilling season you can easily fill Half Your Plate with grilled vegetables. Every time you fire up your grill look for ways to harness its heat in the pursuit of tasty veggies. Grilled asparagus is one of my family favourites especially when it anchors this deliciously charred and brightly dressed salad.
Serves 4 to 6
For the salad
2 bunches of asparagus
2 large red onions
for the dressing
the zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup (60 mL) of your best olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon (15 mL) or so of minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon (15 mL) of honey
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of your favourite hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) of salt
Prepare and preheat your outdoor grill or barbecue to its highest setting. Alternatively build and tend a hardwood fire until you have a thick bed of glowing coals.
Mix the dressing. Simply measure all the ingredients into a mason jar, cap tightly and shake vigorously until a smooth dressing forms.
Prep the asparagus and red onions. Stack the spears on a tray or plate and drench with half the dressing. Roll until evenly dressed. Slice the ends from the red onions and without disturbing the whole onion peel off the skin. Cut each onion into four thick round slices preserving their nested rings. Lay on a plate or tray and drizzle with the dressing.
Grill the vegetables. Lay the spears in a single layer perpendicular to the grates. Roll them gently as they sear so they cook evenly. Carefully place the onions on the grates without disturbing their nested rings. When their underside is deliciously seared smoothly flip over and continue. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a festive serving platter and drizzle with the rest of the dressing.
The secret to grilled asparagus is fierce heat, enough to char the asparagus without overcooking them. A slow fire takes so long to char the spears that they can easily overcook. A hot fire sears them immediately adding tremendous flavour before their bright green freshness is lost.