Early spring vegetables are perfect grilled, especially asparagus when the stalks are thin and tender. There is no need to blanch them before grilling and that makes this appetizer recipe even simpler to prepare. I can’t eat enough asparagus this time of year so when I fell in love with a grilled asparagus appetizer with Buffalo mozzarella at Palio d’asti in San Francisco’s Financial District, I naturally began to think about how I could make it at home. The original recipe had marinated sun dried tomatoes but the first time I tried to make it the flavors of the tomatoes overpowered the rest of the ingredients, not like at the restaurant, where they were perfect! So, rather then bang my head against the proverbial kitchen wall, I opted for the fresh cherry tomatoes which are from Arizona, where it’s hot enough to grow tomatoes this time of year, lucky people. We enjoyed this grilled asparagus appetizer last night before a dinner of roasted chicken, potatoes and a green salad.
1 small bunch asparagus, washed and trimmed
1/2 Buffalo mozzarella, cut in 2-3 slices
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/8 cup Picholine olives
2 tablespoons olive oil, for grilling and finishing
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Sprinkle of fleur de Sel
Sea salt to taste, for grilling asparagus
Heat up the grill pan, brush the asparagus with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and grill over medium high heat until tender with nice grill marks. Transfer to heat proof plate and set aside.
Preheat the broiler
Slice the cherry tomatoes and green olives, set aside.
Slice the mozzarella, place on top of the asparagus and put under the broiler for just a few minutes until cheese softens and slightly melts over the asparagus, don’t let it brown. Carefully remove from oven, salt the mozzarella with the fleur de sel, sprinkle with the olives, cherry tomatoes, lemon zest and olive oil.
Serves 2 for an appetizer