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Grilled Asparagus With Tahini Super Sauce

Asparagus with Tahini on a metallic plate
Photography by Travis Rainey, Prop Styling by Christina Allen, Food Styling by Drew Aichele

Don’t let the grocery store fool you—asparagus has a season (and it’s not the middle of August). Spring is prime time for these green stalks, when they’re at their bright, perky, taut-skinned best. If you’re grilling, roasting, or steaming asparagus, or otherwise planning to serve them whole, look for thick spears. The ratio of fiber to sweet tender flesh is better distributed than their pencil-thin (though admittedly elegant) siblings, and for the purposes of grilling, they’re easier to manipulate with less risk of falling through the grates. Save skinny asparagus for stir-fries, sautés, or other situations in which they’ll be sliced up.

The season is short-lived, so the rules are straightforward: Cook asparagus simply and often, and serve it with something salty and fatty to offset its sweet, nutty grassiness. This tahini mayo is an instant favorite that checks all the boxes. It’s veritable super sauce as silky as hollandaise, with the anchovy-garlic sharpness of bagna cauda, both classic pairings for asparagus. The rest of the year serve the sauce with radishes or cucumbers to dip into, pooled under tomatoes, alongside breaded chicken, or tossed with kale as a sort of tahini Caesar.

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What you’ll need

Recipe information

  • Total Time

    15 minutes

  • Yield

    4 servings

Ingredients

1 bunch thick asparagus (about 1 lb.), woody ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil (for drizzling)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise (such as Duke’s)
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. tahini
1 lemon (optional)

Preparation

  1. Step 1

    Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Place 1 bunch thick asparagus (about 1 lb.), woody ends trimmed, in a large bowl and lightly drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and toss to coat.

    Step 2

    Grill asparagus, turning once or twice, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer back to bowl. (Alternatively, cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling generously salted water until dark green and just crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, immediately transfer to a large bowl of ice water and let sit 1 minute. Transfer to a kitchen towel and pat dry.)

    Step 3

    Using the flat side of a chef’s knife, smash together 3 oil-packed anchovy fillets and 1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped, on a cutting board to make a paste. (Alternatively, you can smash in a mortar and pestle.) Transfer paste to a small bowl, ¼ cup mayonnaise, 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp. tahini, and whisk until creamy. Season tahini mayo with salt and pepper.

    Step 4

    Spoon tahini mayo onto a platter and place grilled asparagus alongside for dipping. Finely grate zest from 1 lemon over asparagus if desired and season with more pepper.

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