My husband, who has taught at Amherst College for over two decades, is crazy about his students. During their four years at the school, he gets to know these young people well, teaching, advising, and mentoring them throughout their stays. So, when graduation arrives each year, we plan a champagne celebration to honor those he has worked with closely. This past weekend we hosted four students and their families at a fete for 25. Smoked salmon with lemon-scented crème fraîche, capers, and shallots, cantaloupe wedges marinated in a syrup scented with mint and Pernod, a plate of cheeses garnished with sage and plump cherries, goat cheese hazelnut phyllo tartlets, and a platter of grilled asparagus served with a special mayo were on the menu. Although our guests ate everything enthusiastically, hands down the asparagus were the hit of the party!
The recipe for Grilled Asparagus with Gribiche is from The Fat Radish, a new cookbook by Ben Towill and Phil Winser, owners, and Nick Wilber, chef, of the popular NYC restaurant of the same name. Gribiche is a classic French mayonnaise that includes chopped hard-boiled eggs, capers, and pickles. But for their version, this trio simplified the sauce using purchased mayo and seasoning it with grainy mustard, lemon juice, and chives. It took me 10 minutes to prepare this sauce the day before. An hour before our party I cooked the spears in batches on a stovetop grill pan until charred and tender. If you pull out your grill, you’ll be able to cook them even more efficiently.
Serve these asparagus and their delicious sauce as an appetizer or use them as a side to grilled salmon, lamb chops, or chicken. However you use them, they are likely to be the most popular dish at your table!
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Grilled Asparagus with Gribiche
For the Gribiche
1 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s works well.)
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 tbsp)
2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped chives
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends discarded
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small handful grated Parmesan
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1. For the Gribiche, stir together all of the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can prepare the sauce 1 day ahead: cover and refrigerate.)
2. For the Asparagus, get your grill or grill pan going on high heat. Toss the asparagus with the olive oil and sprinkle them with a pinch of coarse salt. Grill until charred in places, about 5 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the grill and scatter with the grated Parmesan and lemon zest. Serve immediately with the Gribiche.
Recipe adapted from The Fat Radish by Ben Towill, Phil Winser, and Nick Wilber (Rizzoli, 2014)