Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus with Citrus Vinaigrette
My friends Jacki and Toby Leitch have a Meyer lemon tree in their backyard that yields the most copious amount of beautiful lemons I’ve ever seen on a tree. Every year, they generously share them with friends and neighbors. Here, I use them to make a wonderful Vinaigrette for these prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears. Meyer lemons taste a little sweeter than true lemons; the flavor is akin to a combination of mandarin orange and lemon. If Meyer lemons aren’t in season, true lemons work great too. Be sure to zest the oranges and lemons before juicing them.
Soaking the Plank
Start by using a clean, untreated piece of wood. Most of the wood planks sold in stores are 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Be sure to choose a plank that allows at least a 1-inch border around the food you are preparing. No matter the size, plan on soaking your plank for at least one hour, and up to twenty-four hours. This important step adds moisture that helps the wood to resist burning, which prolongs the use of your plank.
Place the plank in a kitchen sink, cooler, glass or ceramic baking dish, or any container large enough to fit it for soaking.
Soak the plank in water, or if you feel like being creative, try adding some white wine, beer, salt, or apple, berry, or citrus juice to the water.
Keep the plank submerged with something heavy, like a brick, so it stays weighted down during soaking.
Preheating the Plank
Preheating the plank before grilling is an important step. With woods like maple, oak, cherry, and alder, the plank will often begin to warp when placed over heat (cedar does not usually warp). Preheating the plank will control the warping, kill any bacteria on the cooking surface, and impart a more intense flavor to the food.
Before preheating the plank, have a spray bottle with water handy to smolder any flames if flare-ups occur.
For a gas grill, preheat your grill to medium-high, or about 400 degrees F. For a charcoal grill, prepare your grill for indirect cooking: Fill a chimney starter (charcoal chimney) to the top with charcoal. Light the charcoal and let it burn until half of the coals are glowing. Spread the coals onto half of the bottom of the grill, leaving the other side without coals (this is called the “indirect method”). Place the grill lid on top and fully open the top and bottom vents. If your grill does not have a thermometer, place a grill thermometer through one of the vent openings and let it sit for 5 minutes to get an accurate reading. If the grill gets too hot, close the vents partially and let the temperature adjust. Continue making adjustments to the vent openings until the grill reaches a consistent temperature of 400 degrees F.
For optimum smoke and wood flavor, place the plank 8 to 12 inches above the flame and close the grill lid. I prefer to place a plank on the warming rack of my gas grill for preheating and grilling. It takes a little longer to get it lightly toasted and get some smoke going (8 to 10 minutes), but it reduces the number of flare-ups so that you will get more uses out of the plank. If the plank is placed closer to the flame, you should see some light smoke after 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on the grill if the plank is closer to the flame.
Once you see some light wisps of gray smoke emanating from the grill, open the grill lid and flip the plank over. If the plank has not bowed, you are ready to begin grilling. If warping occurs, close the lid again and continue preheating another minute or two until the plank flattens out. Continue flipping and heating the plank one or two more times until warping is controlled.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together
Recipe Courseappetizer, side dish
Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free
Taste and Texturesavory, smoky, sweet
- 18 stalks asparagus (about 1 pound), tough ends removed
- 9 thin slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces), halved lengthwise
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grated Meyer lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juke
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Soak the plank for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Wrap each asparagus stalk with 1/2 slice of prosciutto, leaving the tips of the asparagus exposed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Prepare the plank for grilling according to the instructions (see Notes). Place the asparagus spears on the toasted side of the plank in a single layer. (If the asparagus does not fit in a single layer, then grill them in batches.) Close the lid and grill for 15 minutes, or until the prosciutto is crisp. Transfer the asparagus to a platter. Drizzle with the citrus vinaigrette and garnish with the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.
2014 Dana Guillen