Why You Should Blanch Asparagus Before Grilling It

Although vegetables tend to take a backseat to proteins when it comes to summer grilling, perfectly grilled vegetables can take your barbecue spread from average to extraordinary. And when it comes to grilling asparagus — the narrow, fibrous green vegetables with a mildly bitter, grassy taste — one simple tip could make or break your vegetable side dish.

According to one food blogger, the secret to making perfectly tender, snappy grilled asparagus is a step that happens before the produce ever hits the grill. In order to prevent the asparagus from drying out on the high-heat cooking surface, it's important to blanch the raw veggies prior to grilling.

Blanching is a preparation method that involves immersing an ingredient — most commonly tough vegetables, like carrots, broccoli, and green beans — in a pot of boiling water before, typically, plunging the ingredient in an ice water bath to immediately stop the cooking process (via The Spruce Eats). Blanching, which is used to soften, partially cook, and enhance the color of an ingredient, is typically followed by a secondary cooking method.

According to Bon Appétit, when it comes to asparagus, which has a notably fibrous texture, blanching is a good idea before just about any cooking method, including roasting, searing, and grilling.

Blanching is key to perfectly grilled asparagus

Blanching not only enhances the vibrant green color of the asparagus, but partially cooks the vegetable so that it has to spend less time on the grill. Failing to blanch the asparagus before adding it to the grill could result in dry, unevenly cooked vegetables that are overcooked on the outside but undercooked in the center.

To properly blanch asparagus, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and drop your cleaned and trimmed asparagus into the pot. Let the asparagus cook in the pot until the vegetables are slightly tender and almost fully cooked to your liking, or for about 3 to 4 minutes (via The Kitchn).

If you plan on grilling the asparagus immediately, use tongs to transfer the asparagus to a bowl and toss the veggies with olive oil and seasonings before transferring to the grill. If you're prepping your asparagus in advance, transfer the blanched asparagus to a large bowl full of ice water to shock the vegetable. Drain the bowl and set the asparagus aside until it's time to grill.

Once you've completed that pivotal first prep step, other expert tips for grilling vegetables include cooking asparagus over direct heat and using skewers inserted into the asparagus crosswise to prevent the thin veggie from slipping between the grill grates. Finish your grilled asparagus with a flavorful miso sabayon or fruity apricot and pine nut romanesco for a next-level vegetable dish.