In Maryland, one true harbinger of spring is fresh local asparagus. At Mountain Branch Grille & Pub, executive chef Lee Glanville pairs crunchy grilled stalks of the vegetable with seared scallops, bright corn relish and a smoky and savory tomato vinaigrette. The result is a riot of colors and flavors celebrating the return of spring.
SEARED SCALLOPS WITH ASPARAGUS, CORN RELISH AND SMOKED TOMATO VINAIGRETTE
Scallops and asparagus:
12 U/10 dry pack diver scallops
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
20 large asparagus spears, trimmed for grilling
2 cups corn relish
1 cup smoked tomato vinaigrette
1. Prepare grill to cook over high heat.
2. Place scallops on a platter and pat dry with a paper towel. Season one side of each scallop with salt and pepper.
3. Heat a non-stick pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Carefully place the scallops, seasoned side down, in the pan, leaving room between each scallop. Do not crowd the scallops — cook them in batches if necessary.
4. Season the other side of the scallops as they cook.
5. After about one minute, when a nice brown crust has formed on the bottom, flip scallops to sear the other side. Sear for about one minute until the scallops are cooked to medium and springy to the touch.
6. Remove scallops from the pan, place on a warm plate and cover with foil.
7. Turn down the heat and add 3 tablespoons of butter to the pan and swirl until melted and mixed with scallop juices. Keep warm until plating.
8. When the grill is ready, drizzle the asparagus with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
9. Place asparagus spears directly on the grill and cook, turning once, until soft and charred, about five minutes.
Kernels from 4 ears of white sweet corn (approximately 2 cups of kernels)
½ cup yellow onion, diced fine
½ cup red pepper, diced small
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Place all ingredients in a bowl.
2 Gently mix to combine and evenly distribute.
Smoked tomato vinaigrette
1 cup smoked tomato (smoke tomatoes using a smoker or smoking gun, according to device directions; alternately, roasted tomatoes may be used)
1 ½ cups tomato juice
1 clove garlic, sliced
1 small shallot, sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon chili paste (such as sambal oleck)
¾ cup olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Place all ingredients, except oil and salt, in a blender.
2. Start blender on low. Slowly add oil, in a steady stream, until all is incorporated.
3. Season with salt, taste and adjust seasoning to desired saltiness.
4. Strain though a fine mesh strainer.
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To plate: Use a squeeze bottle or spoon to draw a vertical line of tomato vinaigrette to the left of center on the plate. Place three scallops half on and half off the vinaigrette. Next to the scallops, add about a cup of corn relish, also in a vertical line. Place five asparagus spears next to the corn and spoon a small amount of the butter and scallop juice on top of the scallops.