Last time I wrote about asparagus, it was a little early for grilling. But the Summer Barbeque Challenge from Lex Culinaria and Asparagus Aspirations event from Seriously Good gave me a perfect excuse to make one of my favorite summer salads – grilled asparagus with tomatoes and feta. I threw this dish together last summer because that’s what I had on hand, and liked it so much that I’ve made it half a dozen times since then. It’s hard not to love the simplicity and harmony of this dish. Tomato juices get infused with the smokiness from grilled asparagus and turn pink as the tangy chunks of feta melt into them ever so slightly. Make sure to have lots of good bread to dip in the juices. This salad feels so Mediterranean that I am surprised I’ve never encountered it in any Mediterranean countries. If you’ve seen this combination before, please let me know where – I am very curious.
1 Lb asparagus
1 Lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 Lb feta (French sheep milk Valbresso is excellent for this salad)
2 Tbsp chopped mint (parsley, cilantro, and basil work well too)
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the grill to high.
- Snap the tough ends of asparagus, and place the trimmed spears in a baking dish keeping them pointing in the same direction. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, and toss with tongs keeping all spears still pointing in the same direction.
- Place asparagus on the grill perpendicular to the rack so that the spears don’t fall through. Cover the grill and cook for 2 minutes or until browned. Turn the spears with tongs. If your spears are all pointing in the same direction, an easy way to turn them is to place tongs on top and roll asparagus over 5-6 spears at a time. Cover the grill and cook asparagus 2 more minutes or until browned. Remove asparagus back to the baking dish and cool for 10 minutes. Put asparagus on a cutting board and cut crosswise into 1 inch pieces.
- Move asparagus to a large bowl. Add tomatoes, feta, and mint.
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Pour over asparagus salad, season to taste with salt and pepper, and mix well.