If you’re grilling meat, fish, poultry, or even burgers and are looking for a tasty side dish, asparagus is a great way to go. The best part about this vegetable is that it can be prepared quite simply and still be delicious. They’re not only tasty but also filling and healthy. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of asparagus, how to serve, and a step-by-step guide to preparing this delicious vegetable on the grill.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus is low in calories and rich in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, folate, copper, selenium, vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, manganese, phosphorus, choline, vitamin A, iron, and magnesium. It is also rich in fiber and potassium and has trace amounts of calcium. For those not well-versed in what vitamins and minerals are good for what, suffice it to say that asparagus can have many beneficial effects on your health, including helping to reduce overall inflammation in the body, boosting your immune system, and helping your body counteract free radicals, which can be damaging to cells. The result may be a decreased risk of certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Great Dishes to Serve with Grilled Asparagus
Asparagus is an incredibly versatile vegetable that pairs nicely with a broad range of dishes. Grilled asparagus spears make for a delicious (and light!) side dish for most grilled meats, including steak and ribs. They also pair well with grilled fish and poultry such as salmon, white fish, chicken breast, and turkey. Grilled asparagus spears also go well with non-grilled meats such as glazed ham, meatloaf, a beef casserole, and Shepherd’s pie. They’re also a lighter alternative to French fries, roast potatoes, or chips if you’re serving sandwiches, burgers, or hot dogs.
Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Asparagus on the Grill
Hopefully, by now you are convinced that asparagus is both delicious and healthy, and thus a wonderful side dish for grill night. So how do you cook asparagus on the grill? The short answer is that it’s quite simple. Read on to find out how to do it! The whole process should take you about twenty minutes.
1. Buy the right kind of asparagus
The first step to ensuring a delicious dish is to buy the right kind of asparagus at the store. Stores usually carry canned white asparagus and fresh asparagus spears, which are usually green, although some varieties have a purple hue. Buy the fresh kind if you can. Organic is even better. Try to buy spears that have firm, thin stems and rounded stalks. If you need to store the asparagus before cooking, make sure to wrap the stems in damp paper towels to preserve freshness and prevent the asparagus from drying out.
2. Gather your ingredients
For this fresh and simple recipe, you will need one pound of trimmed fresh asparagus spears, ideally selected based on the criteria described in the first step. If you are in a pinch, canned asparagus can work as well. You will also need a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and salt and black pepper to taste.
For a fun twist on the classic recipe, you can also add two minced garlic cloves and three tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Spread the garlic and cheese onto a midsize pan if you’re going this route.
3. Preheat your grill
Preheat your grill to high heat.
4. Prepare to cook
Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears if you haven’t already, and then coat them with olive oil. Season with black pepper and salt to taste.
Lower the heat to medium and place the asparagus spears on the grill in a row. Cook for about five to ten minutes, until you start to see grill marks. Repeat on the other side. By the time you’re done with the cooking, the asparagus should be tender if you pinch it with a fork. For faster and possibly more even cooking, you can also wrap the asparagus spears in aluminum foil and place the foil on the grill. But this won’t result in the nice-looking grill marks and charred tips that are a telltale sign (and for many, a draw) of cooking on the grill.
If you’re adding garlic and Parmesan, toss the grilled spears into the pan with Parmesan and garlic, mix, and serve.