In early spring, delicate, shiny green spears push from the rain-drenched earth in an attempt to reach the sun, only to get cut down by the farmer’s knife. This ritual, while tragic for the young asparagus, is a welcome sign of spring in the Central Valley of California. What better way to celebrate the ritual harvest than to highlight the tender spear's mild flavor by pairing it with scallops, a light lemon dressing, and touch of mint. These spring flavors don’t compete but compliment each other.
Asparagus contains high levels of glutathione, which according to the National Cancer Institute, “acts as an antioxidant, a free radical scavenger and a detoxifying agent” (Forberg; NCI). In other words, we should eat as much asparagus as we can for the short period in which it is locally available. While most asparagus recipes feature the vegetable as a side dish or salad, the asparagus, lemon, and mint relish shines a new light on this spring staple and allows us to enjoy its unique texture and flavor.
1-pound of sea scallops
3 skewers, soaked in cold water
For the relish:
1 teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus 2 tablespoons olive oil for grilling the scallops)
5 spears of asparagus (remove the hard ends)
Salt, to taste
To finish: ½ tablespoon finely chopped mint
1. Put a small pot of water on the stove (about two quarts of water) and bring it up to a boil.
2. Get the grill hot. Turn the flame up to medium-high.
3. Rinse, dry the scallops, and put four each on each skewer.
4. Start to prepare the relish base as the grill heats: put the lemon zest, a pinch of salt, crushed garlic, and lemon juice in a small glass jar. Let the lemon juice macerate the garlic while you cook the asparagus and scallops.
5. Add one tablespoon of salt to the water and blanch the asparagus spears in the boiling water for 2 minutes. To stop the spears from cooking, shock them in a bowl of lightly salted ice water as soon as you pull them from the hot water. Promptly remove the spears from the ice water as soon as they have cooled down completely.
6. Thinly slice the asparagus spears lengthwise, and then small dice them. Set the small-diced asparagus aside.
7. Add the extra virgin olive oil to the glass jar and shake it vigorously to mix the ingredients together.
8. The grill should be hot now. Rub a lightly oiled rag over the grates.
9. Lightly salt the scallops and immediately throw them on the grill. Cook the scallops for just 1-1.25 minute on each side, gently turning them over with a fish spatula. Once they are cooked, place them on a plate to rest.
10. In a small, nonreactive bowl mix the asparagus with the lemon vinaigrette.
11. Remove the skewers from the scallops and immediately spoon the relish over them. Garnish with a ½ tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint.
Forberg, Cheryl, R.D. "5 Powerful Health Benefits of Asparagus You Probably Didn’t Know." Eating Well. 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.
"Glutathione." National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2016.