Grilled Asparagus Over Caramelized Onions

Asparagus was a special occasion side dish for my family when growing up. Maybe because my mom preferred to work with canned and frozen veggies (and canned asparagus is disgusting), or maybe because it’s more expensive than others–whatever the reason, mom only trotted out the asparagus on holidays and other special days.

As a result, I love asparagus. I love it steamed and baked and grilled. I love it plain, with just a little salt and pepper. I love it jazzed up with citrus and balsamic vinegar. I just plain love it.

This dish is simple. It’s easy to make, requires few ingredients, and the flavors are quiet. The sweetness of the caramelized onions and the crunch of the asparagus take center stage. Nothing fancy here, but it tastes gourmet anyway.

If you’ve never caramelized onions before, be aware that it takes a long time (minimum of 30 minutes, often closer to 45). Patience is key; the onions need to be stirred every few minutes to make sure they don’t burn. But the work pays off: caramelizing brings out the natural sweetness of the onions.

I used the same grill pan for both the asparagus and the onions. I did the onions first, shoving them to one side when they were almost done, and then threw the asparagus onto the grill. This helped the taste of the onions fuses to the skin of the asparagus, melding the flavors together.

This dish is a great side to fancy up a dinner. At least, I think so. I ended up eating it as an appetizer, because I just couldn’t wait until the rest of my dinner was ready. 🙂