Because my grandmother liked asparagus so much, my grandfather took special care with his plants. Now I am carrying on the tradition. For this recipe I like young asparagus. I cook them in a skillet even when I am working over a grill to make sure the smoky flavor doesn’t overwhelm, only heightens. I top the asparagus with gribiche, a French sauce, traditionally an emulsion of hard-boiled egg yolk and oil perked up with pickles and herbs. I like a rough-chopped version and prefer to use the whole egg. I quick-pickle my own carrots (which is very easy) and put them in the sauce, but if you prefer another pickle, don’t hesitate.
Make the gribiche. Bring a pot of water to a rapid simmer over medium-high heat. Add the eggs and cook for 8 minutes. Drain, run under cold water, and peel. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the yolks to set. Mix together the parsley and olive oil in a medium bowl. Generously season with salt. Add the scallions, pickled carrot, and pickling liquid. Chop the eggs, stir into the gribiche, and season to taste with salt. (Makes about 1 cup.) Keep the gribiche in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.
Use any leftover on crostini, sandwiches, or salads or as a sauce for poached fish. Prepare the asparagus and toast. Cut the asparagus spears into 3-inch lengths. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it’smelted, add the asparagus and cook, turning the spears in the butter until they are bright green and just tender but not yet soft, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with lemon and salt. Place the asparagus on the pieces of toast, top with the gribiche, and serve.