Not that it's any great observation on my part to notice, but it seems that everyone loves eating asparagus when it's in season. I think there is something just a little bit celebratory about it. It's like a symbolic gesture, like saying hello to the spring season and the warmer days to come.
We do eat a lot of asparagus in our house at this time of year (well, my husband and I do, at least), and my go-to methods for cooking it are typically roasting, sauteing, steaming and if the weather permits, grilling. For this dish I decided to go just a little different from the norm and cook it in my grill pan. I rarely use it anymore, but it worked great here and it actually kind of reminded me that it's there and maybe I should use it a little more often.
The bold, bright, fresh flavors of this vinaigrette pair really well with the slight smokey char of the pan-grilled asparagus.
Pan-Grilled Asparagus with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette
1 1/2 lb. (2 supermarket bundles) fresh asparagus, tough ends snapped off
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling on the asparagus
salt & pepper
1 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. Dijon mustard
1 t. honey
2 t. minced shallot
1 small clove of garlic, minced
2 t. minced thyme
1/4 c. chopped kalamata olives
10 oz. pkg. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1. In a small bowl combine red wine vinegar, Dijon, honey, shallot, garlic, thyme and olives, slowly whisk in the 1/3 c. olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the asparagus with a little olive oil (just enough to moisten), sprinkle with salt and pepper. Working with half the asparagus at a time, add to the hot grill pan. Cook until crisp-tender and slightly charred in spots, turning occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Remove asparagus to a plate and drizzle with 1 T. of the vinaigrette. Repeat with remaining asparagus, drizzling another tablespoon of the vinaigrette over the second batch as soon as it comes out of the pan. Serve the asparagus, topped with the tomatoes and drizzled with the remaining vinaigrette.