Many people don’t realize how easy it is to grill vegetables. Zucchini, mushrooms, corn, peppers, onions, and tomatoes are all great on the grill. If you don’t want to grill the asparagus, steam them. Just be sure not to overcook them—asparagus should be bright green and still slightly al dente.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
for the hazelnut-star anise mayonnaise:
2 large egg yolks
¼ cup sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon orange juice
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1½ teaspoons honey
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 star anise, ground
1 cup peanut or vegetable oil
½ cup toasted , skinned, and finely chopped hazelnuts
for the asparagus:
2 pounds asparagus, tough bottoms snapped off
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 orange, sliced or cut into wedges for garnish
In a food processor or blender, combine the egg yolks, vinegar, citrus juices and zest, honey, salt, pepper, and star anise. While the machine is running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until the mixture is emulsified,
Reserve 2 tablespoons of the chopped hazelnuts for a garnish and process the rest briefly with the mayonnaise. Remove the mayonnaise to a small bowl.
Fire up the grill. Brush the asparagus with olive oil and lay horizontally across the grill grates. This prevents them from falling through the grates. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roll the asparagus with tongs to grill them evenly, and don’t be afraid to char them a little bit.
Cooking time depends on the thickness of the asparagus and the heat of the grill. Medium-thick asparagus takes about 6 minutes.
ON THE PLATE: Arrange the asparagus in bundles on plates. Drape some of the mayonnaise over each bundle. Sprinkle the remaining chopped toasted hazelnuts over the mayonnaise and garnish with orange slices or wedges.
A STEP AHEAD: The mayonnaise can be made early in the day and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Use the same day.