Paula: Sweltering summer days don’t keep me away from the grill, but they do affect what I want to eat. With triple digit temps in Central Texas, the name of the game is keeping it simple. More often than not, that means giving a heap of colorful vegetables a quick char. With their vibrant colors, barely-cooked textures, and jammy sweetness, lightly charred asparagus and cherry tomatoes easily serve as the main event.
I typically grill the asparagus directly on the grates and blister cherry tomatoes in a preheated grill basket. But, you could fire off both of them in a preheated cast iron skillet over direct heat (bonus: you’ll preserve the delicious seasoned oil for a hunk of bread).
Round out the table picnic-style, with bread, cheese (burrata, fresh mozzarella, or a scoop of ricotta are good options) olives, maybe some salami or prosciutto. Cold wine is a given.
Charred Asparagus and Cherry Tomatoes
Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side
- 2 bunches asparagus, stem ends trimmed
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes (any color)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Wicked Winona or The Usual
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Prepare a charcoal grill for two-zone cooking and build a medium-high fire.
Meanwhile, combine the asparagus and cherry tomatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with enough olive oil to generously coat. Sprinkle the Wicked Winona or The Usual over the vegetables, and use your hands to gently toss until evenly combined with oil and seasonings.
When the coals are glowing red and covered with a fine gray ash, clean and oil the grill grates. If you’re using a grill basket or large cast iron skillet, allow it to preheat for 10 minutes over direct heat before cooking. Use a spatula to transfer the vegetables and seasoned oil to the skillet and cook until the asparagus is charred and the tomatoes begin to burst. If you’re cooking the asparagus directly on the grates, use tongs to place the spears over direct heat and cook until lightly charred on two sides, about 3-4 minutes total.
Serve the grilled vegetables warm or at room temperature, with lemon wedges and anything else you’d like to round out the table.
Grill-side banter provided by food writer, cookbook author and grilling enthusiast, Paula Disbrowe, and infamous grill nerd and co-owner of PK Grills, Scott Moody.
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