Three cheers for asparagus season!
I’m always thinking about new ways to serve vegetables because I find switching things up usually means I can often get my family to eat more of them. We love grilled asparagus and typically I just coat it with a little oil and finish with a squeeze of lemon, so today I decided to try something new. The results? Delicious. The creamy, mayonnaise-like harissa sauce was so flavourful and this recipe makes a good quantity so you can use it for up to three days on other things such as broccoli, cauliflower or even as a hollandaise substitute for eggs Benedict! Za’atar is so popular now you can find it in the ethnic foods section of most large grocery stores; it’s a Middle Eastern blend of dried herbs, sumac and sesame seeds. If you haven’t used harissa before, you’re in for a big treat. This spicy paste, which hails from North Africa, adds a subtle kick of heat that enhances rather than overpowers everything it touches. You should be able to find it at most specialty food stores.
- 24 stalks asparagus, woody ends snapped off
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) of za’atar spice
- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Dijon
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) harissa paste (or more, to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place asparagus spears on a clean baking tray. Drizzle with oil, then lemon juice and toss with your fingers to coat evenly. Sprinkle with za’atar and toss again.
- Preheat grill (or cast iron frying pan) to medium-high heat.
- While it’s heating, make harissa sauce. Put egg and egg yolk in a blender. Blend for 10 seconds, then with the blender running, add the boiling water to partially cook the egg.
- Add lemon juice, vinegar, Dijon, harissa paste and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Blend again, then taste and adjust lemon, harissa and salt to suit your tastes.
- Grill (or fry) asparagus, turning often, until tender and just beginning to char.
- Put cooked asparagus on a clean plate and drizzle with a little bit of the harissa sauce. Serve a bit more of the sauce little dishes for dipping; refrigerate remaining sauce for up to three days.
Serves 3 – 4.