Grilled Asparagus and Mushroom Crostini



Anne Leonard

Here in Coastal Virginia, birds are chirping, the warmer weather is hopefully here to stay, and I want to grill nearly everything in sight these days...even dessert. But that’s a whole other endeavor. Whether it’s a burnt marshmallow for my s’mores or simple grilled chicken, there is nothing better than that charred, fiery taste achieved from grilling.

While many people use the grill solely for poultry and seafood, I’ve been known to pretty much throw anything in there, especially when it comes to vegetables. Luckily, Virginia Beach market Stoney’s Produce has opened once again! Little do they know, they are about to feed my addiction for grilled fare. They close during the winter months, but now that it’s spring they are equipped with the loveliest succulents, tomatoes and most importantly, for the sake of this recipe, fresh local asparagus.

 

Various recipes and methods crowded my mind once I had the asparagus in hand: roasting, grilling, a gazpacho, or maybe chopped and tossed in a salad. However something clicked when I was reminded of a crostini a friend of mine whipped up for me once during college. She topped crusty, hearty bread with artichoke paste and clothed it with a blanket of caramelized leeks and a faint, but fulfilling, smidgen of pesto. Each layer melted in my mouth, and though easily produced, the flavors were developed and dreamy. So I decided to twist her recipe into a crostini with grilled asparagus and mushrooms over an artichoke spread as well as basil ribbons to top off this full-fledged spring beauty. 

I’d purchased a rustic loaf earlier in the week and had just enough left to feed my husband and me a crostini dinner. Though the servings appear more tapas-sized, they’re deceptively filling. Once the mushrooms are grilled, they get incredibly juicy and develop a deeper, earthy flavor. The asparagus shrinks down and is left charred with hints of balsamic and lemon that I brushed on before throwing on the grill. While grilling I made the quick artichoke spread with my trusty immersion blender. Crostinis are in and of themselves crunchy, lovely appetizers, but get ready to take a not-so dainty bite. You may be in store for a one-course meal, but I'll leave that for you to decide.

Serves: 2

 

Ingredients

8 asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed

A pint of baby portobello mushrooms

4 slices of rustic bread

A few leaves of fresh basil

 

Basting Sauce:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

Juice from half a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Artichoke Spread:

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1 15-oz can of artichoke hearts, drained

 

Directions

Light grill and turn heat on low.

Mix together ingredients for basting sauce and brush on asparagus and mushrooms. Thread mushrooms on skewers.

 

Grill mushrooms for about 8 minutes total turning skewers halfway through. The asparagus will need to be grilled for about 10 minutes. Just watch closely so they do not char too much. Once done grilling, slice asparagus spears into thirds (or to fit in rows on your bread) and slice mushrooms.

 

Toast 4 slices of bread.

 

Blend ingredients for artichoke spread until a creamy consistency is reached.

 

Chop basil leaves into ribbons. Roll leaves tightly into a scroll and cut vertically so the basil becomes thin “ribbons”.

Assemble: spread artichoke spread on bread, align spears on bread, layer with mushrooms and top with basil ribbons.

 

 Get a pickled asparagus recipe here

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