Grilled Asparagus with Hazelnut Gremolata

16 April 2024 Dairy Free Gluten Free Vegetarian Friendly
The minute asparagus hits the farmers market stands in April I vow to eat it every day for the duration of the season. And I have to say, despite my general inability to practice anything with regularity, I am pretty consistent with my asparagus consumption.

I’ll take them any way they come, blanched and drenched in brown butter, in salads, stirred through pasta, the hero in a spring minestrone, shaved raw into a slaw with a hearty dressing, simply salted and dipped in aioli or as a soldier for dippy eggs, topped with breadcrumbs in any variety, the list goes on…….So it seems fitting that if I insist on inhaling these glorious green spears on the daily (I am not a huge fan of the white variety – more on that another time), I should at least update you with an annual option on here.  

This year I intend to spend a lot of time standing over my grill (rain permitting, hint hint to the weather gods). But whether you are hovering over coals or protected from the rain in the warmth of your kitchen, grilled asparagus is always a good call when you want to shake things up.  

And because simplicity is the key, the beauty of a hazelnut gremolata (basically a fancy and super fresh herb, lemon and garlic situation) is the perfect accessory for your spears. Other asparagus toppings include, salsa verde, raisin & caper vinaigrette, umami breadcrumbs, dill sauce, buttermilk dressing, pickled onions, tahini dressing, simple brown butter (I think you get the idea) 

I will also link the gremolata recipe separately in the How To section here so you can find it easily when looking for inspiration.  I particularly love it on roasted root vegetables, or with steamed or roasted broccoli, cauliflower or romanesco, on grilled or roast fish or with grains.  Its your basic bit of jhooz…….

Note: I always use unwaxed organic lemons whenever I am incorporating zest into my dishes. 

I always gravitate towards medium asparagus as it cooks more evenly and is easier to pick up with your fingers – essential asparagus inhaling etiquette. I also never worry about all of them being even in length.  I take off the ends where they break naturally (method below).  

If I am using the thinner spears I don’t always blanch them first because they can overcook  quite easily, instead I may douse them with a little water before grilling so they grill and steam at the same time.  With the medium or larger spears I like to blanch them first so that they just finish cooking on or under the grill as they lightly char, allowing them to be cooked and not burned. 

For the Grilled Asparagus

  • 500g (approx 2 bunches) medium asparagus
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or confit garlic oil)
  • a good sprinkling of Malden salt

Hazelnut Gremolata

  • 100g hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off
  • 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley (approx 15g)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • zest of 1 unwaxed lemon

For the Gremolata:

This is best made just before serving, so if you are making the spears in advance, reverse this order and start with them! Please also make sure your hazelnuts are toasted (this is a non negotiable, 8-10 minutes in a medium oven is all it takes). To remove the skins, place them in a clean tea towel and gently rub. You can also crush them wrapped in the tea towel and gently tap them with a rolling pin (or crush them on the board with everything else)

Crush the garlic cloves with the salt by scraping it along the board with the flat end of a large knife to make a paste.  You can also do this in a mortar and pestle, but if you can master the garlic salt crush on a board trick it saves on washing up.  

Finely chop the parsley together with the crushed garlic and add in the crushed or roughly chopped hazelnuts and lemon zest.  The garlic jus combined with the parsley will make the mixture slightly tacky, adhering beautifully to the hazelnuts, giving good sprinkling action when ready to serve.  

For the asparagus:

Bring a large shallow pan of water to a rapid boil and salt generously (a “3 finger pinch”). Trim the asparagus spears by holding each end of the spear and gently bending until the tough end breaks off naturally.  

Blanche for 1-2 minutes until vibrant bright green but still with some crunch (they will cook a little more when you grill them). Drain immediately and run under cold water or refresh in an  ice bath (bowl filled with ice and cold water).  Once cool, allow to drain and gently pat dry with a clean tea towel.

(Note: if you are using thinner spears you don’t need to blanche them, you can simply go straight to grilling)

Heat your coals, oven grill or heavy bottomed grill pan on your hob.

Generously dress your spears with a tablespoon of good olive oil and a good sprinkling of Malden salt. Place on the coals, under your grill or in your hot griddle pan. Sear until they are coloured but not charred. Remove from the heat and place on your serving plate.

Sprinkle with the gremolata and serve.

Have you made this dish?

Let me know what you think, share your efforts and any tweaks you made to the recipe on Instagram, don’t forget to tag #BuildingFeasts or email me on