Asparagus With Lemon-Pepper Marinade From Bryant Terry

March 31, 2020
8 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Prop Stylist: Sophie Strangio. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog.
  • Prep time 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
Author Notes

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

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Asparagus With Lemon-Pepper Marinade From Bryant Terry
  • 1 cup silken tofu
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound thick asparagus, trimmed
  • Freshly ground white pepper (or more black pepper)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Heat a grill to high. Alternatively, heat your broiler and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Clare Colley
    Clare Colley
  • erinrae
  • Mauree
  • Rhonda35
  • littlelemon
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

23 Reviews

Clare C. May 23, 2021
I have two post-adolescent men in my household, so they shouldn’t eat tofu (the estrogen in it is toxic to adult men). So, can cream be substituted for tofu, and, if so, how much? Is it one to one? (8 ounces of cream to 8 ounces of tofu)? Thank you.
Clare C. May 23, 2021
Sorry, I should have read down to the comments to see the yogurt substitution. Thank you!
kt May 23, 2022
The idea that estrogen in tofu is toxic to adult men is not backed by science. Sharing details here for whoever will see this comment in the future: soy products contain isoflavones, a plant molecule with estrogen-like activity, and researchers have noted that "isoflavones do not exert feminizing effects on men,"

dairy products, on the other hand, contain mammalian estrogen, which can actually affect us, since we are mammals. from this: "milk is a rich source of oestrogens, which are associated with prostate cancer"
also this paper: notes that "After the intake of cow milk, serum estrone and progesterone concentrations significantly increased, and serum luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone significantly decreased in men."
more here:
cosmiccook June 12, 2022
I do have to watch my soy intake w hypothyroidism--so yogurt it is!
MariaRita January 22, 2021
Delicious marinade-sauce, but I ran the veg under the broiler in my toaster oven and they didn't start to brown until they were rather dried out and shriveled. I did a second batch under my oven broiler, with more space between the veg, and still no browning! Both broilers perform adequately otherwise.... thoughts?
okaykate June 6, 2020
This was great - cooked the asparagus as instructed and then also did some big cauliflower steaks and served the sauce with that as well. Very tasty! Had loads of sauce leftover and added a bunch of grated garlic and minced capers, which will be served as dressing on a kale salad tonight for a pseudo-Caesar. This is a keeper!
erinrae May 17, 2020
There’s no point in not doubling this because it’s just so delicious and light. I’ve only tried it on asparagus since it’s the season but it would be great with anything I’m sure.
Ariella May 10, 2020
Hi Kristen,
Looks delicious and healthy. I love your videos BUT why the background noise (music)? it is not necessary.
NadineGM May 9, 2020
I did a real cheat version of this, but it was really good. Just drizzled the asparagus with EVOO and a little s/p and roasted for 12 minutes at 400. I followed the yummy tofu/lemon pepper sauce exactly. (maybe added a little extra pepper). Drizzled liberally with sauce after I plated asparagus. Big him with my family. Thank you.
littlelemon June 10, 2020
Thanks! Was thinking I'd shortcut version and cut out the blanch step and wondering how it will be.
Elizabeth April 10, 2020
Delicious, I have never cooked with tofu before. This sauce is awesome. I am also going to use it for salad dressing.
Moca April 7, 2020
Hello Kristen!
I just did this asparagus with lemon-pepper receipt. Served with garlic olive vermicelli with eggplant parmigiana on top. It was so delicious!! This asparagus was so tender and unique.
Thank you!
Mauree April 2, 2020
sounds divine, it's Asparagus season.....woot woot!
Rhonda35 April 1, 2020
Hi Kristen! This sounds so delicious and versatile - look forward to trying it this week. In the video, you asked Bryant Terry about possible substitutes for the silken tofu and his suggestions were clearly based on keeping the dish vegan. However, for those who are not as concerned about the vegan aspect, do you think we could substitute Greek yogurt or a sour cream/mayo combo? (PS - your husband is a cutie, your kitchen is lovely and your baby sounds so happy when she wakes!)
Kristen M. April 1, 2020
Hi Rhonda! Thank you :) Yes, for anyone who isn't trying to stay vegan, all sorts of dairy (or dairy/mayo combos) would work wonderfully here. What I'm recommending, since the consistencies and acidity levels of all of them will vary, is to just fiddle with the sauce till it's thick enough to coat and tastes good!
Rhonda35 April 2, 2020
So, I went totally carnivore with this by using it as a marinade for some chicken thighs I grilled, however I wanted to report back about the marinade itself: used plain Greek yogurt in place of the tofu, did everything else the same and it had a perfect lemon-pepper flavor and a nice thick consistency. Before marinating, I set aside about 1/3 c of the marinade to use as a sauce on the cooked chicken. The whole thing worked out so well and I will return to this recipe for it's original incarnation as well as for marinating chicken for grilling!
Kristen M. April 2, 2020
I love this!
Mauree April 2, 2020
love the yogurt stand in....I'm going to use that.
J April 4, 2020
How much yogurt- 1 cup?
Rhonda35 April 4, 2020
Yes 1 cup - I did a 1:1 exchange of yogurt for the tofu.
Camille W. April 21, 2020
dare I try to marinate salmon with this?
Rhonda35 April 22, 2020
Yes! It worked really well with chicken and I think it would be great with salmon. Try it and let us know. :-)
Camille W. April 24, 2020
It turned out GREAT with the salmon. I had a beautiful piece of king salmon- I added some fresh dill. Thanks for the inspiration! I served with asparagus (and used the same marinade for both).