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Seared Scallops with Asparagus and Meyer Lemon Pesto

Seared Scallops and Asparagus with Meyer Lemon Pesto

Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Our local asparagus is finally here, and there's no better way to celebrate than to pair it with two asparagusloving ingredients: scallops and lemons. Thicker stalks of asparagus have more taste and texture than thinner ones and are the perfect foil for the sweetness of the scallops. The largest scallops, about eight to 10 to a pound, are best for this dish. Just make sure not to overcook them; otherwise, they'll be tough. I use Meyer lemons for the pesto because they have a sweeter, less acidic taste than ordinary lemons and a thinner skin. I picked Meyer lemons from trees when I was in Palm Springs recently, but they have limited availability here. If you can't find them, substitute a whole tangerine or mandarin and a squeeze of lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon). The pesto will keep for a week.

Servings: Serves 4 as a first course or 2 as a main.

Ready time: 30 minutes

Asparagus

1 lb (500 g) asparagus (thicker stalks if available), ends trimmed

Meyer Lemon Pesto

1 Meyer lemon, seeded and cut into pieces (leave the rind on)

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

1 tsp chopped garlic

¼ cup olive oil

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Green Onion Crumble

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp melted butter

2 green onions, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Scallops 2 tbsp olive oil

8 large scallops

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tbsp Meyer lemon juice

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes or until crisp but tender. Drench them with cold water to stop them from cooking further. Cut them in 2-inch pieces on the diagonal and reserve.

To make the pesto, place Meyer lemon in a food processor. Add basil, mint and garlic and process until coarsely chopped. Add olive oil and cheese and process until a little chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the crumble, toss the breadcrumbs with melted butter and green onions. Season with salt and pepper. Place them in the oven and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until crispy.

Heat olive oil in a non-stick skillet over high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Sear about 2 minutes a side or until they are nicely glazed on outside and opaque inside.

Remove scallops to a plate. Add asparagus to pan and reheat (about 2 minutes). Return scallops to pan and add Meyer lemon juice. Toss to coat.

Place a dollop of pesto on each plate.

Top with scallops and asparagus.

Sprinkle with green onion crumble.

Garnish with more pesto around the plate.

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