Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I’ve been finding amazing garlic at our farmer’s market, the skin thin and tight around the cloves, the cloves clustering around the hard core. (Why is only soft core garlic available in grocery stores?)  Garlic that is visibly juicy when you cut into it.  Garlic whose germ is small and white.  When I find garlic like this, I like to feature it, whether in tomato water pasta (this is a fabulous technique if you’ve got tons of tomatoes), plentiful and barely cooked; in a Caesar dressing, cooked only by the lemon juice; or minced and tossed with asparagus and olive oil then grilled.

We did this last night at a friend’s, a boy’s night out, overlooking the Chragrin River Valley, humid-hazy as the sun set, playing with fire.  And a dinner consisting of nothing more than steak, asparagus, and red wine.  Mince two cloves of juicy fresh garlic, combine it with a quarter cup of olive oil and a pound or so of asparagus, salt it, toss it well to distribute the garlic.  Spread hot coals over half your grill, sear your steaks on both sides, move them to the cool side of the grill, and dump your asparagus on the grill over direct heat.  Cover the grill to cook the asparagus and to finish the steaks.  I didn’t have a basket last night so had to be careful not to let them fall through the cracks.  Only lost one.  We took the steaks off and let them rest while we finished the asparagus.  Everything went straight from the grill to individual plates.  You could do the same with green beans as well.  Finish with lemon juice and zest.  A perfect meal.

If you’re in Cleveland next week, don’t forget about the second annual garlic festival at Shaker Square.  Last year, I found the best garlic ever.

If you liked this post on the grilled asparagus with garlic, check out these other links:

© 2011 Michael Ruhlman. All rights reserved.



18 Wonderful responses to “Grilled Asparagus with Garlic”

  • Michael M

    Hardneck garlic has a much shorter shelf life, which I’m guessing is why there’s no supermarket distribution system for it.

  • marc

    Have a grower of the german soft-neck garlic near by ( I also make my little feeble attempts as well) and the flavor is just incomparable to the “grocery store” (often from China!) variety. While the soft-neck varieties don’t keep as long, if stored properly, I’ve gone as long as five months. Has a lot to do with when the garlic is harvested and how its handled subsequently.

    • jdw

      Actually, the softneck varieties keep longer, many of them up to nine months. It’s hardneck which don’t keep as long — often only 3-4 months. There’s at least one exception to the rule with hardnecks, and that’s Music, which can last a full year, properly cured.

      As for origin of the garlic — there’s nothing particularly wrong with Chinese varieties. They’re typically quite early, compared to other varieties, which means they aren’t going to have the strength of flavor of others, but, grown in the home garden, they fill a much-needed role — I’m going to be growing Chinese Pink this winter, and it should be harvestable in May, about two months before anything else can be harvested. That means that, as the last of my heads of Music are beginning to go bad, I’ll be in fresh garlic. It’s hard to argue with that kind of benefit!

      Of course, buying it in the supermarket year-round means you miss out on the few brief months of wonderful hardneck garlic in late summer and into autumn. There’s nothing like the bite of garlic to dull the cold of a wet autumn evening.

  • dave

    Made your tomato-water pasta the other night with the first batch of tomatoes from the garden. Miraculous. Simple, delicious and even the kids dug it.

  • Will K

    Nice recipe. I like to use both garlic and shallot, along with olive oil and a dash of salt (sea salt or kosher – I use less if I’m using kosher) and freshly ground black pepper. Sometimes, if I’m feeling froggy, I’ll splash some balsamic vinegar before tossing. On the grill, I use a basket that has a ring around the bottom of it which keeps the basket from resting directly on the grates – thereby keeping the basket cooler, and allowing me to leave the asparagus on the grill longer without overcooking it. My ‘sparagus comes out moist yet crunchy, tender-crisp, with a nice grilled flavor to it, and tiny black char spots rather than a blackened side. Absolutely addictive.

    • Chris

      Froggy? Really?!? Are you a child and are we suddenly back in the ’80’s?? Those types of slights don’t belong on a website such as this, or anywhere else for that matter.

    • ruhlman

      I’m not really sure what froggy means, but it doesn’t sound bad. Is it? Balsamic is great on most grilled things, i’d add after grilling though.

  • Paul Kobulnicky

    Yes …let’s do the really good green beans instead of asparagus since asparagus is an April-May thingie and most certainly not an August September thingie … to every thing,turn, turn, turn etc.

    I have some terrific Kentucky Wonders that are as long as asparagus and young and succulent. Maybe I’ll grill some this weekend with garlic.

  • Jake

    You’ve just described one of my favorite meals, especially with a bone in NY strip and a nice bottle of morellino. Only difference is that I like to salt the the asparagus after it’s off the grill, so it retains a little more toothiness.

    Thanks for the inspiration– I may be grilling this tonight.

  • Garden Fresh Personal Chefs

    When I get my hands on really fresh garlic with the greens still intact, I’ll chop and sautee them with my other other veg. Or plunk them in my simmering pasta water to impart their flavor to the pasta.

  • Will K

    I had no intent to slight anyone, Chris. I was using “froggy” as in “adventurous” or “looking to explore,” a meaning which hails from the 1940s-1950s; I could have used the word “promiscuous” instead — to the same meaning, effect, and/or intent — but then you’d probably be jumping all over my case about that, too, I suppose.

  • allen

    I harvested my garlic last weekend and it was the best batch I’ve had, juicy pungent cloves that I could smell when I was digging them up, so good I felt froggy, ( the new froggy means sporting wood).
    I planted an extra large crop this year and will have to double that size for next year after finding lots of uses for the tops, blanch, saute, make pesto, add to anything and make it better. I used to cut them off and discard them, they take energy away from the bulb if you don’t trim them off.
    Fertilized once in late fall and once after the last frost, covered the garlic in the winter with my raked up maple leaves and gave them a spritz of epsom salt water a week before harvest. Not sure if any of this contributed to the success, but I will repeat the process for next year.
    The garlic is only like this at this time of year, I can not get anything like this in the winter, and I do end up buying the peeled cloves. Is that red glow on the eastern horizon Michael Symon’s head turning red? Sorry man.

  • shelley

    Hardneck garlic is amazingly easy to grow and it and roses get along great. I recommend getting your hands on a few more heads and popping the cloves in the ground in a nice sunny spot. I usually pop mine in when I harvest in july, but you should be fine putting them in now.

  • Natalie Luffer Sztern

    Froggy had me running for the urban dictionary..

    there is urban legend among the English in Quebec, (and I know one of ur readers will agree or disagree or even know how this came to be, although this is something I remember from the ’60;s, ’70’s..) that the aboriginal French speaking people used to be called by a highly derogatory term: ‘peppers’. No idea how this ever came to be but it is because of this term that years and years ago Dr. Pepper was not allowed to be advertised or sold in Quebec because the term “I’m a Pepper, You’re a Pepper…” was considered inflammatory – years later that rule disappeared, I suppose when the politics changed, and has since been accepted widely both for sale and advertising.

    I go on record as having never used this horribly deratory term…ever.

  • Mantonat

    After your blog last year on Music garlic, I planted some of my own and have been enjoying the results for the past month or more (I planted 4 other varieties as well, all of which were ready for harvest in mid-July).

    Will K’s “froggy” comment would not have made sense as a racial slur, because “frog” refers to the French, while adding balsamic vinegar is distinctly Italian. If I’m feeling froggy, I like to drink a little hot lemonade with honey. Clears the throat up right away!

  • Darcie

    The reason hardneck garlic is less available probably has more to do with where it’s grown than how long it keeps – each type of garlic is more suited to a particular climate.The large garlic-growing areas in China (and CA) are better suited to the softneck variety (which doesn’t like cold winters). It also grows faster, a boon to large scale agriculture. And since the market is arguably cornered there isn’t much incentive for competition. There’s more to it than that, but those are the basic factors. See for more info (I have no affiliation with Seeds of Change).


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