Grilled asparagus with za’atar and creamy harissa sauce

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.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.