Brined Grilled Asparagus with Preserved Lemon Aïoli
Why This Recipe Works
by Sasha Marx
Whether you’re preparing a full-on vegetarian feast or just grilling up some of your farmers’ market bounty as a side dish, it pays to treat vegetables with as much care and attention as you do meat. Want a perfectly seasoned grilled pork chop? Brine it. Want perfectly seasoned asparagus spears? That’s right, brine ’em. Uniform seasoning can be tricky with vegetables such as asparagus because they have a Teflon-like nonstick coating when it comes to salt. It just bounces right off, even if your Salt Bae sprinkle game is on point. A coating of oil can help salt stick, but you’re still left with a salty shell around a bland interior. That’s where brining comes in. For this recipe, we brine asparagus in much the same way as you might brine a chicken breast—we lightly prick the spears with a fork to create gaps in the their waxy exteriors before submerging them in an 8 percent salt solution for 45 minutes. The asparagus gets a bath, and you get deeply seasoned spears, ready for the grill. We serve them with a bright preserved lemon aïoli (don’t have preserved lemons on hand? We got you.) and a scattering of toasted almonds (to keep your sprinkle game tight), but you can also eat them straight off the grill with your hands.
Photography by Steve Klise