The power of the grill sweetens asparagus

Associated Press photo by MATTHEW MEADThink you don't like asparagus? Throw some spears on the grill and you'll fall in love with them.
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Grilling can transform and enhance vegetables. And this simple recipe really shows just how powerful it is. It works because the high heat of the grill causes the natural sugars in the asparagus (as well as many other vegetables) to caramelize, accentuating its nutty, sweet flavors.


Grilled Spring Asparagus

Look for fat firm stalks with deep green or purplish tips. Check the bottom of the spears. If dried up, they have been sitting around for too long.

Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 8

1 pound fresh thick asparagus

2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt (use salt according to taste)

1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Heat the grill to medium.

Trim off the asparagus spears’ tough bottoms (about 1/3 of stalk) in a bundle using a knife or one at a time, grasp each stalk by both ends and bend it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness. Wash and dry the spears.

Place the asparagus in a large zip-close plastic bag. Add enough oil to massage the spears and coat them entirely with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and massage again. Leave the asparagus in the bag until ready to cook.

Place the asparagus on the cooking grate crosswise so they won’t fall through. Grill for 8 to 12 minutes (depending on the size and thickness of the stalks), turning occasionally to expose all sides to the heat. The asparagus should begin to brown in spots (indicating that its natural sugars are caramelizing) but should not be allowed to char.

Remove from grill and let cool to room temperature. Wrap each stalk of grilled asparagus with a thin piece of prosciutto. Serve immediately.

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