Equipped with a blender, a pot, 2-3 sauté pans, an ice bath and a watch to time the speed at which you whip up this five-ingredient recipe, you’ll get a meal that presents as restaurant fare without all the fuss and expense. If scallops aren’t your thing, roasted shrimp or sautéed chicken thighs would provide an equally satisfying pairing with asparagus.
Although I’m committing several locavore and seasonal food crimes by offering a spring vegetable for a fall meal, asparagus is still available at my local grocer and I couldn’t wait seven months to share this obliging recipe that will make you your own superhero. Fresh scallops, if you so indulge, are in season.
The key to preparing the luxurious asparagus purée is to limit and control cooking by briefly placing the spears into boiling salted water and then plunging them into a prepared ice bath which stops the cooking process and thus ensuring a brilliant color and firm vegetable. Remember, salting water for green vegetables will bring out their emerald hues. Lemon will yellow the color, so for our preparation, it’s added just before serving.
brilliant asparagus tips & purée
Asparagus and scallops pair so well on many levels from their color combination to their flavor tango to their kindness to our hips. It’s conscious coupling. For this recipe to deliver crunchtime duty, I highlight equipment. Granted, you’ll use a few pans in order to cook and serve, but the meal will make it worth it.
preptime: 15 min serves 4
cooktime: 5 min
- 1.5 lbs asparagus, ends trimmed
- 1.5 lbs large sea scallops, patted dry with paper towel and sprinkled with salt
- 4 Tbsp + 1 tsp butter
- 1 lemon for: 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice + lemon zest
- canola oil
- Gather equipment: blender, a large pot, a small pot, a bowl filled halfway with ice, a large saute pan, a small sauté pan, a small sauce pan, a liquid measuring cup, a knife & cutting board.
- Fill the large pot with water and 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil.
- Add the asparagus spears and cook for 2 minutes. NOTE: you will need to use 1/4-1/2 cup of the asparagus water, so don’t discard.
- While the asparagus cooks, add water to the ice bowl, then remove the asparagus from the boiling water with a pair of tongs and plunge the spears into the ice bath to stop the cooking process. After a minute or two, remove the asparagus to paper towels to dry.
- Use the liquid measure cup to scoop out the asparagus cooking water, set aside.
- Cut the tips off of the spears and set aside. Slice the stalks into chunks and load into the blender.
- Add 1/4 cup of the water to the blender to start and blend the spears for a minute until you get the right consistency. Add more water as necessary.
- Pour the purée into the small sauce pan and turn on low. You’ll be incorporating the 4 Tbsp of butter into the purée while you cook the scallops.
- Add the tips and 1 tsp butter to the sauté pan and turn on low. You’ll stir these occasionally as you prepare the scallops.
- Heat the large sauté pan on high. Add about 1/8″ layer of canola oil in the pan. When the oil is glistening, add scallops. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan to paper towel.
- To the purée, add lemon juice. Taste, add salt if necessary.
- To serve, place purée in a shallow bowl, top with scallops, then a few asparagus tips and finish with lemon zest.
recipe inspired by Michael Ruhlman from his book Twenty and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com