Grilled seafood, lemon, extra-virgin olive oil and herbs: This simple Mediterranean quartet of ingredients is a sure-fire combination. I 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 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 this version, I thread green onions on skewers alternately with plump scallops to bring an extra element of taste, texture and beauty to the plate. 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 I added the zest of the lemon as well as its juice.
Grilled Scallops With Lemon-Herb Drizzle
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
16 green onions
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 green onion roots and green tops, 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 green onions onto four skewers, alternating them on each skewer. Brush 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.
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
Yield: 4 servings.