Grilled Asparagus Flatbread with Lemon Aioli

We’re continuing our lemon theme, in honor of the upcoming book birthday of

but with grilling this time. I am a cookbook author and a bbq queen, too! I wear a chef's hat and a tiara when I'm not sitting in front of my computer, waiting for inspiration to strike.

But I digress. . .

Our outdoor kitchens today may be stainless steel and the open fire may come from hardwood lump charcoal or a propane tank. But our love for French-inspired food continues.

Barbecuing with a French accent is easy. Simply pair a grilled Brie and tapenade-stuffed chicken breast with a classic bistro salad, a baguette and a bottle of wine or a cocktail. Stir up an easy Bearnaise Sauce before you throw the steak on the coals.

Slice the new “it” vegetable—cauliflower—into “paillards” or steaks to grill to a delicious turn. You can’t believe how great cauliflower can taste with a few grill marks and a little Orange-Olive Pistou, a south-of-France riff on pesto or salsa.

For a wow-y appetizer or main dish, grill asparagus and flatbreads . Then put them together with a dollop of lemon aioli and a sprinkling of feta and pistachios for a flavor combination that is c’est magnifique

Or put a classic French daube or stew on your smoker to get that ancient flavor of hearth cooking.

Voilà! That’s BBQ Bistro by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig (Running Press, 2015. These Kansas City authors continue their fresh take on backyard barbecue from The Gardener and the Grill and Patio Pizzeria. To increase your grilling savoir faire, BBQ Bistro offers an array of barbecue techniques from grilling on a plancha and cast iron to rotisserie, grill-roasting, herb grilling, and slow smoking.

These techniques reach back to the hearth-style cooking of long ago and blaze ahead to the fresher way we want to eat now.

Lemon Aioli
Adapted from BBQ Bistro by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig

Aioli is a garlicky mayonnaise from Provence used to accompany fish and shellfish, but we love it with grilled salmon or a platter of grilled vegetables. The trick to making light, fluffy aioli in a food processor is using the whole egg instead of just egg yolks. If the food safety of raw eggs is a concern for you, use pasteurized eggs in their shells or 1/2 cup (125ml) pasteurized liquid whole egg. This is a milder aioli with a hint of lemon.

Makes about 2 cups (500 ml)

2 large eggs
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (add a little lemon zest for more lemon flavor)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
11/2 cups (375 ml) olive oil

In a food processor, combine the eggs, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard; pulse to blend. With the motor running, through the food tube, gradually add the olive oil, processing until thick and creamy. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Grilled Asparagus Flatbread with Pistachios, Feta, and Lemon Aioli

French flatbreads are deliciously simple. In the north, the Alsatian tarte flambée or flammekuchen is a thin flatbread made with yeast dough and topped with crème fraiche, lardons (bacon), and onion. In the south, fougasse has the filling rolled into the dough and is shaped in a leaf form. We have taken the yeast dough, rolled it thin, and then grilled it to await the French toppings of grilled asparagus, lemon aioli, feta, and pistachios. (The French feta cheese is mild and creamy and usually made from excess sheep’s milk that is not used for making Roquefort.) With a flute of Champagne, life is good.

Serves 4

1 recipe Lemon Aioli, prepared (above)
1 pound (450 g) prepared pizza dough
Olive oil for brushing
1 pound (450 g) fresh asparagus
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces (125 g) French feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup (30 g) shelled, roasted, and chopped pistachios

Prepare a medium-hot indirect fire in your grill.

Divide the dough into four parts. Pat or roll each part into a 6-inch (15-cm) oval on a floured surface. Brush both sides with olive oil and place on a baking sheet to take to the grill.

Trim the asparagus, brush with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and take out to the grill. Place the asparagus spears perpendicular to the grill rack. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes, turning often, until the asparagus is tender-crisp and has charred a bit. Transfer to a cutting board and chop into 2-inch-long (5 cm) diagonal pieces. Set aside.

Place the dough ovals on the grill grates. Grill for 2 to 3 minutes or until the underside has good grill marks. Transfer the dough ovals to the indirect side, grilled side up. Dollop Lemon Aioli on the top of each grilled dough oval and spread it quickly with the back of the spoon. Scatter with asparagus, and then sprinkle with feta and pistachios. Close the grill lid, and grill for 3 to 4 minutes or until the feta is beginning to melt and the dough has cooked through.

Serve warm and pass the remaining Lemon Aioli at the table.

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