Grilled seafood, lemon, extra-virgin olive oil and herbs: This simple Mediterranean quartet of ingredients is a sure-fire combination. I first discovered it decades ago at a Greek taverna where they served whole fish char-grilled and doused with spoonfuls of lemon-olive oil dressing spiked with dried oregano and fresh parsley.
To this day, when I see that dish on a menu, I can’t resist. Over the years I have enjoyed playing around with the basic formula, using different kinds of seafood, whole, filleted or skewered; substituting lime for lemon; changing up the herbs (pretty much any herb works, and I like to mix dried and fresh); and adding elements such as chopped olives, capers or minced shallot. It’s a food version of music’s basic blues progression — a simple but winning structure that lends itself to endless possibilities for riffing.
In the accompanying recipe, scallions threaded onto skewers alternately with plump scallops bring an extra element of taste, texture and beauty to the plate as the vegetable softens and its ends frizzle attractively once grilled. The dressing drizzled over the skewers is just like the one I remember from that taverna way back when, with dried oregano and fresh parsley. But here I added the zest of the lemon as well as its juice for an extra layer of brightness. This recipe is prime-time for your best quality extra-virgin olive oil because that luxe, nuanced flavor is a cornerstone of the dish, and the foundation for the many variations you are sure to explore after trying it.
Krieger is a registered dietitian, nutritionist and author who hosts public television’s “Ellie’s Real Good Food.” She blogs and offers a weekly newsletter at www.elliekrieger.com.
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Grilled Scallops With Lemon-Herb Drizzle
Here, plump scallops are threaded onto skewers with scallions that, once grilled, mellow in flavor, soften and frizzle beautifully. The skewers are then drizzled with a classic Mediterranean combination of lemon, extra-virgin olive oil and herbs for a simple but irresistible dish. The scallops also can be cooked on the grill. If you’re using bamboo skewers, they’ll need to soak for 30 minutes before going over the fire. From cookbook author and nutritionist Ellie Krieger.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 1/4 pounds large scallops (about 12)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Whisk together 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice and oregano in a medium bowl. Stir in the parsley.
Trim the scallion roots and greens, leaving about an inch of the white and light-green part. (Save the greens for another use, if desired, such as in a salad.)
Thread the scallops and scallions onto four skewers, alternating them on each skewer. Brush the skewered scallops and scallions on both sides with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and season with the salt and pepper.
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook for 5 to 6 minutes total, until grill marks have formed and the scallops are no longer translucent, turning them over once.
Serve right away, drizzled with the lemon-herb mixture.
Nutrition | Per serving: 210 calories, 18 g protein, 9 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 35 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar