Griddled, eh? Well…where are those sear marks then? You got me. There are NO sear marks on these asparagus. The truth is that I don’t own a griddle. I used to. It was beautiful and large and cast iron and was so darn heavy that, in a moment of overwhelmed exhaustion during my last move, I donated it to Good Will. Not one of my smarter moments, true.
Then again, after days of packing this, that and the other, I just didn’t care anymore and I ditched it. Just looking at it and knowing how heavy it was exhausted me. Someone is probably donating it right now in the midst of their very own packing-for-a-move breakdown.
I’m embarrassed to say I did the same with my cast iron pans (I wasn’t thinking straight, I’ll admit it…was too darn tired), which I have had to repurchase since then. Silly me.
But back to the non-griddled griddled asparagus. Why do I call them that, then?
Well, because it’s so much cuter and warmer-sounding than saying they’ve been sautéed, which is really what I’ve done with them. I don’t know…sautéed smacks of Martha Stewart, starched immaculate aprons, and pompous chefs. The word feels clinical to me, like using the words ‘associated components,’ ‘conditions,’ or ‘processes.’
Griddled, on the other hand, sounds warm, savory, slightly browned and delicious, which is exactly what happens to vegetables cooked this way. It also recalls ‘grilled,’ but without the smoky flavor, heat, bugs and added work of starting a fire.
It’s become one of my favorite ways to prepare veggies on weeknights because it requires very little time and preparation for the wonderful flavor it brings out of the vegetables. I’ve taken to adding some sort of finishing sauce, like curry butter, to add additional flavor and I must say that it’s been a big hit.
This particular combination of asparagus and curry butter goes especially well with a subtly aromatic pilaf that I call Fragrant Red Onion Rice Pilaf. I served it one evening for dinner with some ‘griddled’ and slightly browned sage sausage patties and it just went all so well together. A real tasty meal if I say so myself. And my girls agreed.
making curried & griddled asparagus
Make the curry butter. First, place ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes in a mortar
and crush with a pestle.
Add ½ cup room temperature unsalted butter, 3 teaspoons curry powder, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of salt, and crushed red pepper flakes in a small bowl
and mix well with a spoon.
Wash 2 lbs. of asparagus and peel outermost skin off the stalks (do this only when asparagus are not in season or if they are excessively thick. Also, if the asparagus are not approximately the same size, separate them by width into thin, medium and large.
Heat a 12-inch cast iron or heavy skillet on medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil begins to swirl but is not smoking, add 2 finely diced shallots
and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until they soften.
Add the largest spears, add a pinch of salt.
Turn heat up to medium-high and cook for a minute. Add the medium stalks, and a pinch of salt. Mix and cook for another minute, — it helps, space wise, to place half in one direction and half in the other. Add the thinnest spears, a pinch of salt and cook for another minute. Mix well. While they will not all fit flat in the skillet, make sure to spread them as evenly as possible across the surface of the skillet and be sure to turn them over every minute or so to have them all cook evenly as well.
Add a tablespoon of water and cover skillet, lowering heat to medium. Cook for 2-4 minutes (depending on stalk thickness) until the asparagus yields without being too soft. Remove cover. Turn heat to high and cook for an additional minute, until asparagus begins to look golden and slightly crispy along some of its sides.
Take skillet off heat and add 2-3 tablespoons (depending on taste preference) of the prepared curry butter.
Using kitchen tongs, gently turn the asparagus to ensure an even coating. Transfer asparagus to a serving dish. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings. Transfer unused curry butter to a small glass container and refrigerate, covered, for up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months.