If you live in California, most things end up on the grill! Can't remember when this simple recipe first became one of the ways we enjoy asparagus, but it's a favorite that delivers the spirit of this contest. —Amber Olson
EVOO plus 1 TBS
Big handful of fresh thyme branches
fresh squeezed lemon juice
lemon pepper, preferably salt free (Penzeys makes a wonderful one)
chopped fresh thyme leaves
pinch of sugar
pinch of garlic powder (never was a fan of these kinds of seasonings but sometimes they just do the trick in the right preparation; I use a wonderful powder from the local coop that is free-flowing, not treated)
Rinse the asparagus, snap off the bottom ends, pat off excess water, place in a flat platter, drizzle with 1 TBS. of EVOO, then rub it over all the spears.
Prepare a charcoal grill for direct heat and get coals to a medium level. Grill asparagus for 5-10 minutes, depending on thickness, or until lightly charred. Throw a handful of fresh thyme branches that have been soaked in water on the coals while the cover is in place to lightly smoke the spears. Remove to original platter and set aside to cool.
Whisk the rest of ingredients in a bowl. Adjust seasonings to taste. Pour over the cooled asparagus, tossing to coat all the spears. Chill, tossing occasionally to keep everything coated evenly, at least an hour.