Scallops with Slivered Asparagus and Lemony Wine Sauce

When I saw this recipe posted over on Serious Eats last Friday, two things immediately sprang to mind:

1. Oh my God, that looks awesome.

2. The voice of Gordon Ramsay screaming, “These scallops are raw!” then beaning some poor, hapless cook with one.

See, I had never cooked scallops before so I was pretty nervous about the undertaking, but I took the plunge anyway.

Scallops with Asparagus 2

So glad I did, too. This was incredible.

The ingredients were few and simple, which is my preference with seafood. Less is more. Don’t let thick sauces get in the way.

I was also quite intrigued with the book that this dish came from: What We Eat When We Eat Alone. The title in itself is interesting because I know what I eat when I’m alone — take out, fast food, leftovers, anything I don’t have to make myself. I think a lot of people don’t cook when alone. I don’t know why that is. This past Saturday night I had the house to myself. What I could have (and should have) done was cook a food that I normally don’t get to eat when I’m cooking for my spouse (things he typically doesn’t like). But guess what I ended up doing instead? Leftovers. And eating leftovers is good because letting food go to waste is a bad practice, but I could have had fun cooking and didn’t grab the opportunity.

I think I’m going to check out this book. If only a dozen dishes are as fantastic as the scallops I made on Friday night, it would be a worthwhile investment.

Scallops with Slivered Asparagus and Lemony Wine Sauce
Adapted from What We Eat When We Eat Alone, by Deborah Madison

12 ounces asparagus
6 – 7 large sea scallops
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter, in all
1 fat scallion, white part with a little green, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoon zest (Meyer) lemon
2 – 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Splash of white wine

If the asparagus is thick, peel the stalks. Don’t bother doing that with thin asparagus. Slice them diagonally up to the tips. (If you are doing this well in advance, put the asparagus in a bowl, cover with a damp towel, and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.) Peel off the opaque muscle of the scallops, if any is evident, and discard. Pat scallops dry with paper towels.

When ready to cook, put up to 8 cups of water to boil for the asparagus. Add salt, then the asparagus and boil until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain them just before they’re ready as they’ll continue cooking in their heat, then return them to the pan and toss with a little of the butter and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Simultaneously, melt a tablespoon of butter in a skillet. When the foam subsides, add the scallops. Cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then turn and cook the second side. When done, divide the asparagus between 2 plates, then nestle the scallops on top.

Add the remaining butter, scallion, herbs, and lemon zest to the pan, allow the butter to melt and foam, then add the splash of wine and squeeze for lemon (to taste) and let it sputter and boil. After about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, add a little pepper, and spoon the sauce over the scallops and asparagus. Serve with crusty bread to capture the juices.

Be sure to spread the wine sauce over the asparagus, too — I tried keeping it to just the scallops and realized it was a missed opportunity. Mixing the asparagus with the buttery sauce was such a simple, flavorful combination that couldn’t be beat. Butter+wine+scallops? Yes, please! When I had finished up the dish, I wished I had cooked more. Putting this dish together took about 20 minutes and clean up took 5. And for price, it really can’t be beat — about $7.50 per plate. If I had used a nice bottle of wine it would have been more, but I confess I used a cheap, white cooking wine from the grocery store. Definitely next time — because there will be a next time and it will be soon.

Scallops with Asparagus

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