Chef, author, and activist Bryant Terry may have designed this recipe for asparagus, but it offers a template that will bring any vegetable in your crisper to life. Just blanch, marinate, then grill (or broil), using a marinade that's creamy from silken tofu and pulls double duty as a sauce at the end (both for this recipe, and anything else you want to dunk in it, ranch-style, later). If you're missing any one of the ingredients or simply want to use this method on other vegetables you have on hand, don't worry—the technique is flexible, and we're here to answer your questions.
In his new cookbook Vegetable Kingdom , Terry shares the story behind this recipe, "I created this recipe after watching the second episode of the first season of Atlanta. I’ve never had lemon pepper wings, but when Darius and Paper Boi drooled over the light emanating from their chicken-filled box, it was clear that I needed to see what all the hype was about. After an afternoon of testing, while bumpin’ Outkast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, I landed on a marinade that combines tangy lemon juice, bright lemon zest, and pungent black pepper. Instead of creating a recipe for ranch dressing, which is typically served alongside wings, I blended the marinade with silken tofu to give it depth and creaminess. I finished the dish with a hit of earthy-floral white pepper and more lemon zest. This is for all my people grinding and hustling in ATL, the Bluff City, MIA, North Cakalak, and the Big Easy. As Andre 3000 said at the Source Awards in 1995, 'It’s like this though, I’m tired of them closed-minded folks. It’s like we got a demo tape but don’t nobody want to hear it, but it’s like this: the South got something to say! That’s all I got to say.'"
Recipe adapted slightly from Vegetable Kingdom (Ten Speed Press, February 2020). —Genius Recipes
- Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook time 5 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
unseasoned rice vinegar
fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
freshly ground black pepper
thick asparagus, trimmed
Freshly ground white pepper (or more black pepper)
- In a blender, combine the tofu, 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest, the olive oil, water, rice vinegar, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the salt and the black pepper and puree until smooth, adding more lemon juice if necessary until the mixture is runny. Pour into a shallow dish, using a rubber spatula to scrape out all the sauce. Set aside.
- Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water. In a large pot, bring 2 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt and the asparagus and blanch for 30 seconds to brighten the color. Using tongs, remove the asparagus from the pot and quickly plunge it into the ice water. Let cool for 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus, pat dry with a clean kitchen towel, and transfer to the shallow dish with the dressing. Toss well and set aside for 1 hour.
- Heat a grill to high. Alternatively, heat your broiler and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Grill the asparagus (or broil it on the lined pan), turning with tongs to ensure even cooking, until tender and blistered n spots, 3 to 5 minutes.
- To serve, place the asparagus on a serving plate, drizzle with the lemon-pepper sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon zest. Season with salt and white pepper to taste, then serve.