Growing up in the Midwest, one of my favorite places to hang out in midsummer was the asparagus patch at the back of our huge garden. The asparagus itself was not the draw, as by that time the slender shoots had given way to billowing, fern-like shrubs, dotted with tiny red berries. In that dense shrub of matured plants you could train your eyes to look for the movements of praying mantids, which favor the plants for placement of their egg cases. In early summer there would be lots of tiny, bright-green mantid babies all over the plants, and as the summer progressed they would diminish in number (one reason being that they tend to eat each other), grow in size, and turn darker in color. I liked to carefully catch them and carry them around, sometimes nested in my hair. Seriously. We didn’t have video games then. If you have never seen a mantid close up, they are pretty fascinating. Graceful little killing machines.
Anyway, this is leading up to a salad.
Sadly, I no longer have an asparagus patch handy in which to stalk mantids, but I look forward to the beginning of asparagus season because it is, hands down, my favorite vegetable. During the season I eat it several times a week, usually grilled or steamed. This is an easy, main dish salad that is simply dressed with Meyer lemons and olive oil. This is prime season for Meyer lemons, which are sweeter and more fragrant than regular lemons, but you can substitute standard lemon juice if you cannot locate Meyers.
- A pound or two of fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
- Olive oil, for grilling
- 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Optional salad ingredients: radishes, olives, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers
- Rinse and pat dry the trimmed asparagus, and coat the spears with a little olive oil. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat, and then grill the asparagus, turning once or twice, until it just starts to soften and brown.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the Meyer lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, white pepper, salt, and mustard.
- Arrange the grilled asparagus on a platter along with any other desired salad ingredients, and drizzle with the dressing. Serve warm or cold.
This is wonderful served warm off of the grill, but the cold leftovers make a nice lunch the next day. The dressing can be doubled or tripled if you want to do this for a crowd.
Thanks for reading,