Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

Story by Natalie
Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction
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It’s a big moment guys. I’m about to share with you The Modern Proper’s first ever grilled asparagus recipe! (I know, I know, what took us so long?)

Do you remember the first time you had grilled asparagus? I do, because it was late enough in life to wonder how in the world I’d missed out for so long. Why did my parents think I’d hate it so much, thus depriving me of the heavenly dish well into my teens? Fast forward a few years and asparagus is now a staple in our home.  And guess what? My kids love it! I wasn’t about to repeat history.

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

Big disclaimer though- my kids still very much have kid pallets and aren’t as adventurous as I am, so for their sakes we keep it simple. Grilled asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper is instantly gobbled up. But if it was just me eating? Well, I like to mix things up.

So today, I’m sharing a recipe for grilled asparagus with a thick (and delicious) balsamic glaze. It’s my kind of dish. Before I get into the juicy details of this recipe, let's first start with how to perfect the art of grilled asparagus.

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

Can you barbecue asparagus?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Asparagus should be grilled. Sure, in the fall and winter it can be baked/roasted, but right now is the perfect time to fire up the barbecue and give that asparagus the char it deserves!

How long does it take to cook asparagus on the grill?

Asparagus should never be cooked for long. Even when cooked in the oven it should never be under the heat for more than 8 minutes. Cooking the asparagus longer than that results in a really mushy, unappetizing texture (which is perhaps the reason my parents assumed I wouldn’t like it).

When on the grill, as long as the heat is high enough, the asparagus only needs to be cooked for 2-3 minutes, then rotated and cooked for another 2 minutes. Quick, right? The reason for this is that asparagus is at its best when it’s still slightly crispy. If you’re cooking thick asparagus, add another minute or two per side, but you don’t want it too soft.

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

How do I make asparagus crispy on the grill?

There are several recipes out there that suggest wrapping your asparagus in foil before placing it on the grill, but beware. This method traps in the steam released by the water in the asparagus and will NOT result in the crispy texture you desire.

Instead, I recommend placing it directly on the grill over high heat. It’s okay to let the flames char the edges (a little black is a good thing). Just be sure you don’t overcook it!

So back to the actual recipe….

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

The Best Grilled Asparagus

For this recipe, we’re serving it hot off the grill and crispy, topped with a balsamic glaze, which is pretty much like candy! If you’ve never had balsamic glaze then you are in for a treat! A slow simmer and reduction cuts the acid and gives the thick, syrupy vinegar a sweet taste. For good measure we’ve added a bit of honey and a little cornstarch to make it extra drool-worthy. After a generous drizzle, sprinkle a few pine nuts, some good parmesan cheese and you’ve basically made yourself an award winning side. Congratulations, You should be proud! I know we were when we first tasted this creation.

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

Grilled Asparagus with Balsamic Reduction

Serves 4

Balsamic Reduction

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

Ingredients

2 lb fresh asparagus
1 tbsp olive oil + more for drizzling
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup balsamic reduction
1/4 cup pine nuts (toasted)
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Method

  1. Simmer balsamic vinegar with sugar or honey and salt for 10 minutes, until reduced by half.
  2. Add 2 tsp corn starch into cold water and pour into reduced vinegar. Stir over low heat until sauce thickens. Make ahead and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks. Warm and stir before using.
  3. Trim and discard tough ends of asparagus. Toss with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat grill to high. Once hot, set asparagus directly on grill. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until just cooked, but still slightly crunchy. If working with thicker asparagus, add 1-2 minutes per side.
  5. Transfer asparagus to a serving plate and drizzle with balsamic reduction followed by fresh parmesan, toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.