Getting your children to enjoy eating asparagus requires some ingenuity and creative preparation. Grilling asparagus instead of steaming or boiling it gives the vegetable a new dimension, and using a marinade or fresh herbs to enhance its flavor may tempt even the pickiest eaters to try it. Asparagus contains folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin B6, according to the University of California. This nutritious vegetable has low sodium content, making it a healthy grilling choice for your family.
You should wash asparagus tips and stalks to remove any residual dirt and cut or snap off the ends, which have a tough texture, even when properly cooked. If you plan on cooking your asparagus directly on your grill, you may want to baste the stalks with a liquid marinade before cooking them. Common sauce accompaniments for asparagus include butter, margarine, creamy salad dressing, olive oil or a pre-mixed marinade. Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, chile powder, garlic powder or a dry seasoning mix rubbed onto asparagus before grilling add some extra pizazz to this side dish. If using a foil pouch to grill your asparagus, consider adding some fresh garlic, lemon slices or fresh basil for extra flavoring.
When grilling asparagus, make sure you place the stalks perpendicular to the grill bars to reduce the chance of having the stalks fall through the grill slats. If grilling smaller pieces of asparagus, consider using a kabob skewer, which allows you to turn the stalks easily. For outdoor grilling, cook each side of the asparagus stalk for 1 to 2 minutes. If using an uncovered indoor grill, the total cooking time for asparagus ranges from 3 to 5 minutes, according to the University of Florida Extension.
Placing asparagus in a foil pouch makes it even easier to grill and serve, especially if you just want to cook the tips of the stalks. To do this, you simply place asparagus stalks on a length of foil and drizzle some olive oil, marinade or ranch-flavored dry mix on top. Seal the foil into a pouch by folding over the foil and scrunching the edges together; then place the pouch on your grill. You may add additional vegetables, like tomatoes, zucchini and bell peppers, to the pouch if you want to cook a vegetable medley. A liquid-based marinade combined with the heat of your grill will steam cook the asparagus. Allow the pouch to grill for approximately four to six minutes before removing it, then open the pouch carefully to avoid burns from escaping steam.
If you choose to cook just the outer tips of the asparagus stalk, grilling times may be shortened by up to 2 minutes. Asparagus exhibits a bright green color when cooked, so look for this when grilling to determine when its ready to be removed from the grill. When directly grilling asparagus, do not leave the stalks unattended, unless you prefer your vegetables charred. You may want to baste your stalks again after flipping them on the grill to add extra moisture and flavor.