Grilled green asparagus salad with mustard-sherry vinaigrette

Tender griddled asparagus with juicy tomatoes, olives, and a punchy dressing!

Asparagus is often a vegetable that divides the crowd. Either you can’t get enough of it or you would rather completely skip it. When I was following a ketogenic diet for a month last year I realized how much actually I love green asparagus. This is about the only thing that stuck with me from the keto self-experiment. Science changes, opinions change, I learned more about nutrition and healthy habits. I would not encourage anyone anymore to actually follow a short-term fad diet solution like keto.

When I was younger, my mom would make white asparagus usually in one of two ways: Either: boiled till tender with sauce hollandaise and boiled potatoes – a very typical German dish. Or: Boiled asparagus rolled up in sliced ham with remoulade sauce (basically herbed mayonnaise). I really like both of these preparations, because they remind me of my childhood. Grilling or frying is out of the question, as white asparagus really needs the time to be boiled tender. Green asparagus, on the other hand, is way less fibrous and can easily be stir-fried or grilled. This makes it perfect for quick and delicious salads. Combine it with fresh crisp tomatoes and some chopped olives, add some salad leaves for a bit more body, top with dressing and you are done!

One of the most recognizable and beloved dressings is of course honey-mustard. The lightly sweet but biting-sharp flavor of the mustard is mellowed out by the smooth creamy sweetness of the honey. The two flavor extremes of pungent sharpness and indulgent sweetness melt together into a balanced symphony. It can be used in so many different ways but the two most common are probably as a salad dressing, a marinade or as a dipping sauce for chicken or pork. You can find the two ingredients as combination #6 in my book Flavor Math, amongst the other 66 delicious pairings.

To keep this dressing more savory and hearty, however, I chose to skip the honey for now and go for a bit more punch! Sherry also adds an extra level of depth to the dressing. Of course it all depends on the sherry you use, but in general, it adds the subtle sweetness of wine, as well as the flavor of dried fruit and clove. On top, I also use balsamic vinegar in this recipe. You could, however, cut out the middle-man and go for 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar instead. Still, I find that the balsamic vinegar and sherry both add something to the dish.

Charcoal-grilled is, of course, the most awesome choice in terms of flavor, but for those of us who are house- and indoor-bound, a griddle pan is definitely the next best thing.

 

Tender griddled asparagus with juicy tomatoes, olives, and a punchy dressing!

 

Serves either as a side-salad for 2 people or the main meal for 1 hungry eater

Nutrition per serving (if as side-salad for 2 people): Calories: 351; Total Fat: 23g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 16g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 389mg; Carbohydrate: 33g; Dietary Fiber: 11g; Sugar: 19g; Protein: 8g. High in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, and folate

Ingredients
  • 500g green asparagus, no need to peel it
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g iceberg salad (that’s about 1/4 of a head)
  • 3 spring onions
  • 4 ripe tomatoes
  • A handful of olives
  • 1 heaped teaspoon whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon sherry
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 

Griddle some stalks and hustle up a dressing

Snap the woody ends off the green asparagus. The easiest way to do this is by pinching both ends of the asparagus with your fingers and bend it until it breaks.

Toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put a griddle pan on high heat and let it warm up until it starts to smoke. Add the asparagus and griddle it till it is charred slightly on all sides. It should be about 5 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the salad leaves into bite-size pieces. Slice the spring onions at an angle into thin rings. Dice the tomatoes and roughly chop the olives.

Whisk the mustard with the sherry, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the balsamic vinegar until fully combined.

Toss all ingredients to combine, sprinkle with sliced spring onions and serve immediately!

What’s your favorite way to eat asparagus? What other veggies would you use this dressing for? Share your thoughts and suggestions with us in the comments below!

PS: This recipe is inspired by the idea that asparagus shares chemical flavor compounds with tomatoes, olives, and mustard. That’s why they work so well together. Check out James Briscione’s book The Flavor Matrix on food pairing if you are interested in digging deeper into this!

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