Weekend Gourmet

Weekend Gourmet: Grilled asparagus with a perfect sauce

CorrespondentApril 12, 2014 

Ladle Gribiche Sauce over freshly grilled, regionally grown asparagus for a spring feast. The sauce goes well with seafood, too.

FRED THOMPSON

If you ask my mother, she would tell you that I hate asparagus. Well, yeah, Mom, I do hate canned asparagus! In her defense when she was tasked to change my Dad’s diet after his heart attack in the 1960s, canned was all she had available, and it was a shocking departure from our normal feeding of slowly-braise-everything vegetables.

Fast-forward to present day, and you will find me eating asparagus every chance I get – fresh asparagus, that is. I love the flavor and the multi-faceted textures of the stalk. While asparagus has become an expected vegetable in the produce section year-round (and tastes pretty good throughout the year), the taste of a regionally grown, in season, fat-stalked asparagus shows off this green pencil in all its glory. It’s an experience not to be missed.

The very best way with these seasonal beauties is to simply grill them. The char that develops intensifies the natural sugars and creates flavor that booms. And with a little Gribiche Sauce ladled over, it’s a dish of the gods.

I was introduced to Gribiche Sauce while working with a photographer in New York City who would order lunch in from a nearby Belgian bistro. The sauce, presented with their poached salmon, was exquisite. I searched through European cookbooks to find a recipe. This one is loosely based on that search but nails the sauce from the restaurant. Not only is the sauce perfect with poached salmon, it’s even better with grilled asparagus.

But don’t stop with salmon and asparagus.

Any grilled fish recipe will come alive with a side of Gribiche. Replace your basic tartar sauce with Gribiche with fried seafood recipes. It’s also a delicious and unexpected topping for fresh tomatoes as they come into season.

One ingredient may be unfamiliar to you, and that’s the cornichons, French for “gherkin” and which we know mainly as “sweet gherkins.” Cornichons are the opposite of sweet. They are crisp, tart and tangy and can be found jarred in the pickle section or the olive bars of any grocery store.

Try them with smoked meats and seafood as well as this recipe, or in your homemade tartar sauce. This recipe calls for a small amount, but cornichons are fairly critical to an authentic Gribiche. You can substitute finely chopped dill pickles without changing the flavor too radically.

Thompson: fdtfx1@earthlink.net

Sauce Gribiche

3 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon cornichon pickles, chopped (or substitute dill)

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

1 tablespoon chives, chopped

1 teaspoon dill, chopped

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 cup good quality mayonnaise

COMBINE ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours; overnight is even better.

SERVE immediately or store in an airtight container for three to four days.

Yield: About 2 cups.

Simply Grilled Asparagus

2 bunches fresh asparagus (about 2 pounds), woody ends removed.

Garlic-infused oil or olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly grounded black pepper

PREHEAT your grill to a high temperature.

LAY asparagus on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

PLACE the asparagus on the grill, perpendicular to the grates so it won’t fall through. Grill 5 to 8 minutes, rolling the asparagus with a spatula much like you would with a hot dog. When they pick up some char, they are done. Serve with Sauce Gribiche.

Simply Grilled Asparagus

2 bunches fresh asparagus (about 2 pounds), woody ends removed.

Garlic-infused oil or olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly grounded black pepper

PREHEAT your grill to a high temperature.

LAY asparagus on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

PLACE the asparagus on the grill, perpendicular to the grates so it won’t fall through. Grill 5 to 8 minutes, rolling the asparagus with a spatula much like you would with a hot dog. When they pick up some char, they are done. Serve with Sauce Gribiche.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service