Grilled Asparagus and Portabellos
Asparagus season is here! It's one of the earlier crops to arrive, and one of my favourites. I'm not sure if it's because it comes first, or if it's because I like it so much. If you've never seen asparagus grow before - I have a shot from my parents garden (photo below). It pops up out of the ground stalk by stalk, just like you see it at the store! It's best when it's young, before the stalks get too woody and tough. To get the best parts in your dish, trim the tough ends off of the asparagus before using it. I do this by gently tapping a knife on the surface of the asparagus, starting at the bottom woody end and working my way up. When your knife goes through the stalk without much force you've hit the good parts. Discard the bottom stuff and keep the sweet tender stuff to eat.
Buy local if you can - the stuff that comes from the big stores doesn't even come close to the flavour or sweetness of the asparagus that comes out of my parent's (organic) garden. I've been spoiled with the good stuff growing up, so I never really appreciated the difference, but now when I go home for a visit I get as much home grown stuff as I can!
Fun Asparagus Fact: You know how some people seem to have smelly pee after they eat asparagus and others don't? Did you know it's actually a difference in how people smell the compound that makes your pee smelly? In other words - it's not a difference in the pee, it's a difference in the nose! (weird, and now I bet you're super-excited to get on with the eating of the asparagus...)
I modified (slightly) this Recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook It's All Good - I like her cookbook because it's full of fresh whole-food recipes but also full of flavour - win win!
Note: this dish can be grilled or sautéed - I've tried both and they're equally yummy. Instructions for both are below.
- Grill or large Wok
- Bamboo or wooden spoon
- Knife and cutting board
- Juicer or reamer
- Measuring spoons
- Prep bowl (for the sauce)
- Small whisk
- 1 large bunch of asparagus
- 3 portobello mushrooms
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 5 drops ume plum vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp water
- 1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
- oil for grilling
- Optional: toasted sesame seeds for topping
- Preheat the grill to medium while you prepare the veggies. If sautéing preheat the wok to medium-high heat. Brush the grill with oil or season the wok with 1-2 tsp oil.
- Prepare the asparagus and mushrooms: wash, then trim the tough ends off the asparagus. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stems.
- *If Grilling, leave the portobellos and asparagus whole. If sautéing in the wok, prep as follows: Take the centre stem out of the mushrooms, and scrape out most of the black gills. Cut in half, and then into thick slices. Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces.
- Prepare the sauce: Peel and mince the shallot and place into prep bowl. Add the rice vinegar, plum vinegar, honey, soy sauce, water, sesame oil and lime juice. Whisk well and set aside.
- If grilling: place the whole portobello caps on the grill until quite soft (about 20 minutes). While the mushrooms are grilling, steam the asparagus for 3 minutes. When the mushrooms are soft, turn the grill up to high heat and throw the asparagus onto the grill (in a grill-pan if needed) for 1-2 minutes, until marked on all sides. Remove from grill and slice grilled veggies into bite sized pieces.
- If sautéing: Place asparagus into the wok and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms soften.
- Put cooked veggies into a serving dish and pour the sauce overtop. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and additional salt if desired. Serve warm.
Nutrition based on ~5 spears asparagus and 2/3 mushroom cap (about 1/4 recipe)
- Fiber, fiber, fiber! I sound like a broken record - but you probably need more! All veggies are full of it, a great reason to find ways to enjoy your veggies!
- Did you know Asparagus is a great source of Vitamin A? It's also full of potassium (like many fresh fruits and veggies). It's also a pretty good source of Vitamin C.
- Mushrooms are one of the only natural food sources of Vitamin D (when they're grown under UV light or sunlight), and the only vegetable source of Vitamin D. You won't be able to meet your daily needs by eating mushrooms, so keep this one as more of a fun fact.