More importantly, have you ever tasted grilled asparagus?
On a whim and out of sheer boredom, I tossed a few asparagus spears on our grill (a grill equipped with GrillGrates does an excellent job on asparagus), and cooked the really slender ones indoors on my George Foreman grill. To my surprise and delight, the grilled asparagus -- both ways -- was marvelously tasty and ridiculously quick & easy to cook. Grilling simultaneously deepens and mellows the flavor of the asparagus, allowing a subtle sweetness to develop while softening any "grassy" or "vegetal" flavor notes. And the texture is remarkably satisfying, too: When grilled just right, the asparagus retains just the slightest crispness on the outside with an almost-buttery interior.
Asparagus grills so quickly that you need to keep an eye on it to avoid overcooking. It usually takes no more than 5 or 6 minutes from start to finish, including washing and trimming any tough ends, and the actual on-grill time is probably only two to three minutes. So I don't recommend walking away from your grill once the asparagus is on.
Here are my tips for grilling asparagus, whether on a conventional outdoor barbecue grill of any kind, or indoors on a George Foreman grill or other similar indoor grill:
1. Wash asparagus, trim off any tough ends (I snap them off but you can use a knife if you prefer) and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Preheat your grill. If cooking outside, make sure your grates are clean. If using an indoor grill, the grate plates should be clean and oiled per manufacturer recommendations.
3. Lightly season the asparagus if desired (I like a light sprinkling of lemon pepper or other similar mild seasoning) and toss with a little oil or spray with cooking spray.
3. If grilling outdoors, place the asparagus spears across the grates over indirect low to medium heat and close the grill cover. If grilling on a Foreman Grill, place the spears across the grate ridges and close the grill cover. In both cases, grill for 2 or 3 minutes, then check for doneness: The asparagus should be bright green with light or golden grill marks and "al dente" fork-tender (a slightly wrinkly appearance is normal, but you don't want the asparagus to get mushy-soft). Older, thicker spears will take a little longer to cook, while very young and slender spears can cook in barely 2 minutes. That's why I recommend checking for doneness after two minutes.
Serve the grilled asparagus "as is" or with a squeeze of lemon juice, a drizzle of melted butter, a sprinkling of sea salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper, a pinch or two of fresh chopped herbs or other simple seasoning. I like adding the grilled asparagus to a lightly-dressed spring salad.
If you try grilling asparagus, please leave a comment to tell us what you think.