Grilled Asparagus and Corn Salad with Charred Lemon VinaigretteSteven Raichlen
When buying the asparagus, choose thick spears (they’re easier to pin and grill). Choose an Asian roasted sesame oil; one good widely available brand is Kadoya. Black sesame seeds are available at Asian markets and many supermarkets—otherwise use more toasted white sesame seeds.
The easiest way to grill asparagus is a technique I pioneered many years ago in The Barbecue! Bible: stalks laid side by side and pinned together to form a raft. It’s a lot easier to grill and turn the rafts this way than individual stalks.
Grilled asparagus and grilled corn are two of our favorite summer vegetables. This salad brings them together—where else?—on a hot grill. Grilling accentuates the sweetness of any vegetable by caramelizing the natural plant sugars. (It also imparts an intoxicating smoke flavor.) To reinforce those smoke flavors, you dress the salad with a sesame and charred lemon vinaigrette.
Grilled Asparagus and Corn Salad with Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
- Grill Time: 16 minutes
- Total Time: 12 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
- Method: Direct grilling
- Equipment: Can be grilled over charcoal, wood, or gas. You also need small bamboo skewers or toothpicks or a grill basket or vegetable grilling grate.
- 1 pound asparagus, fibrous ends snapped off
- 2 ears sweet corn, husked
- Asian (dark) sesame oil for basting, plus 3 tablespoons for the dressing
- Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
- 1 lemon, zest finely grated (you’ll need 1/2 teaspoon) and fruit cut in half crosswise
- ¼ cup sugar, in a shallow dish
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or chives
- 1 tablespoon black or toasted white sesame seeds
1: Set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high.
2: Pin the asparagus stalks together with bamboo skewers or toothpicks to form rafts, 4 to 5 stalks per raft. (Alternatively, arrange them in a single layer in a grill basket. Or on a preheated vegetable grilling grate on the grill.)
3: Lightly brush the asparagus and corn with sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.
4: Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well. Grill the asparagus and corn until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, 6 to 8 minutes in all for the asparagus and 9 to 12 minutes in all for the corn. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Cut the kernels off the corn cobs using long lengthwise strokes of a chef’s knife.
5: Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Dip the cut sides of the lemon halves in the sugar and place them, sugared side down, on the grill grate. Grill until darkly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
6: Squeeze the juice from the caramelized lemon halves into a mixing bowl, discarding any seeds. Add the lemon zest, vinegar, 2 teaspoons of sugar (left over from dipping the lemon), and salt and pepper and whisk until the salt and sugar crystals are dissolved. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons of sesame oil and 1 tablespoon of water. Stir in the grilled corn, chopped cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste; the mixture should be highly seasoned.
7: Remove the skewers or toothpicks, if used, and arrange the grilled asparagus spears on a platter or plates. Spoon the grilled corn mixture over them, leaving the ends of the asparagus exposed. Dust with black sesame seeds and you’re in business.