Charred Asparagus Adds The Perfect Crunchy Textures To Your Dishes

A beloved springtime vegetable, asparagus bestows a complex, multi-tiered flavor profile that is at once sweet, earthy, buttery, and bitter. While steaming and poaching asparagus will render juicy, soft results, charring asparagus will change both its flavor and texture for the better. Charred asparagus contains heightened notes of earthy, buttery caramelization, while the bitter finish takes on an elegant smokiness. Plus, the charred edges elevate asparagus' texture from soft and juicy to crunchy and tender.

While it may be a simple side dish when steamed, charred asparagus becomes the focal point of any dish or even the foundation for a main course salad. Its smoky caramelized flavor and crunchy toasted texture will pair beautifully with creamy dishes like macaroni and cheese, fettuccine alfredo, and potato gratin. You can use charred asparagus as a sophisticated topping for poached eggs with a drizzle of miso butter, or integrate them into the famous eggs benedict brunch dish. For that matter, it´d also make the perfect garnish for a bloody mary.

Charred asparagus would also serve as an improved substitute for green beans in a Nicoise salad with new potatoes, soft-boiled eggs, and tuna. You can wrap charred asparagus stocks in prosciutto or applewood bacon for a decadent appetizer to serve at your next dinner or holiday party. It would also be the perfect topping for a savory puff pastry tart, to layer atop cream cheese or brie.

How to achieve the perfect char on asparagus

You can use various cooking methods to char asparagus including grilling, roasting, and searing. In her vegetarian-friendly charred asparagus taco recipe for Tasting Table, recipe developer Miriam Hahn creates a smoky browned asparagus by sauteing thin stalks in a cast iron skillet over moderate heat with a tablespoon of oil.

For a more intense char on your asparagus, you can sear them in a cast iron skillet by turning the heat on the stove up to high and placing asparagus stalks in smoking hot oil. Some recipes recommend blanching the asparagus before pan-searing it to obtain both a crispy charred exterior and a tender, juicy interior.

If you like al dente charred asparagus, you can place raw stalks on a dry skillet over high heat to dry sear. You'll need to apply pressure to the asparagus either with the back of a spatula or use a heavy object like a canned good to dry sear the asparagus. When you've seared the asparagus on both sides, you can finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, stir to coat, and season with coarse salt and cracked pepper.

You can use the oven and the grill for charring asparagus, with similar preparation methods. Toss asparagus spears in olive oil, salt, and pepper before adding it to a grill or oven at high heat. In all of these methods, you'll need to flip the asparagus as it cooks for an even char.