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Grilled Asparagus with Smoked Salmon and Tarragon Mayonnaise

Grilled Asparagus with Smoked Salmon and Tarragon Mayonnaise
Asparagus takes readily to brief grilling, which adds a mild smoky undertone to the vegetable's nutty, sweet flavor. Combined with smoked salmon, grilled asparagus is a singular beginning to a Sunday brunch or a candlelit dinner on a patio or deck. The mayonnaise can be flavored with basil or chervil in place of the tarragon.

Ingredients:

For the tarragon mayonnaise:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
     
  • 1 1/2 lb. asparagus
  • 1/2 lb. smoked salmon, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:

To make the tarragon mayonnaise, place the mayonnaise in a bowl. Add the tarragon, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Break off any tough stem ends from the asparagus, then trim the ragged ends with a knife. Bring a fry pan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and boil for 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold running water until cool and drain again.

Prepare a fire in a grill or preheat a grill pan over medium heat. Place the asparagus directly on the grill rack or in a grill basket on the rack, or place them in the grill pan. Cook, turning as needed, until lightly marked with grill lines and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

To serve, make a bed of the smoked salmon slices on 4 individual plates, dividing the salmon evenly. Arrange the grilled asparagus on top of the salmon along with some tarragon mayonnaise, dividing evenly. Garnish with the lemon wedges.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Casual Outdoor Dining, by Georgeanne Brennan (Time-Life Books, 1998).