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Skillet Asparagus with Grapefruit
Photo courtesy of Squire Fox

When we host dinner parties, we sometimes give the main dish our full attention (ahem, fancy lamb roast) and neglect the sides that surround it. Luckily, with this stunningly simple asparagus dish in our back pocket, we can guarantee at least one accompanying dish that won’t look like an afterthought. The recipe comes from the talented Charleston-based Lee brothers’ latest cookbook and marries slender spring asparagus with late-season grapefruit. Served alongside a light pasta or a flavorful leg of lamb, this combination of charred asparagus, juicy grapefruit segments and a sweet-sour vinaigrette is sure to please.

Makes 4 side-dish servings

1 grapefruit

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 pound medium asparagus spears, trimmed of woody ends

Freshly ground black pepper

1. With a zester or Microplane grater, scrape roughly 1 teaspoon of grapefruit zest from the skin of the fruit and set aside. Segment the grapefruit by cutting a small slice off the top and bottom to reveal the flesh. Place the grapefruit on a flat side on a cutting board and, working from top to bottom, use a sharp knife to slice away the peel and white pith. Take the fruit in your hand and, holding it over a medium bowl to catch all the juice, carefully cut each segment away from the membrane and let the segments fall into the bowl.

2. Once you’ve extracted all the citrus segments, squeeze the membranes to release any remaining juice, then discard the membranes. Gently strain the segments, reserving the segments in one bowl and the juice in another bowl. Add ¼ teaspoon salt, the vinegar, 1 tablespoon water and the mustard to the bowl with the grapefruit juice; whisk to combine. Whisk in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies, then set aside.

3. In a large skillet set over high heat, warm 1 teaspoon of the canola oil. When the oil smokes, add half of the asparagus and a pinch of salt to the skillet; cook, partly covered, until the asparagus is charred on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the asparagus in the skillet, cover and cook until the asparagus is crisp-tender and charred all over, 3 minutes longer. Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter. Add the remaining teaspoon of canola oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining asparagus, seasoning with a pinch of salt.

4. When all the asparagus is on the platter, scatter the reserved grapefruit segments evenly over the top. Whisk the dressing to re-emulsify it and pour it over the asparagus. (You will have some leftover dressing.) Garnish the dish with the reserved grapefruit zest and freshly ground black pepper, then serve.

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