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Parchment-Baked Scallops and Asparagus

Parchment-Baked Scallops and Asparagus
Baking in parchment is an ideal cooking method for springtime, as it accentuates the flavors of the season's fresh ingredients. These packets can be assembled several hours ahead and refrigerated until you bake them. Salmon or sea scallops can be substituted for the bay scallops, and green onions, sugar snap peas or snow peas can replace all or some of the asparagus.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. asparagus spears
  • 1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 Tbs. fresh orange juice
  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room
     temperature
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 lb. bay scallops

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425ºF.

Cut or snap off the tough stem ends from the asparagus spears and discard. Cut the spears into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain well and set aside.

In a small bowl, using a fork, mash together the orange zest, orange juice, butter, salt and pepper.

Cut out 6 hearts from parchment paper, each one 12 inches high and 12 inches wide at its widest point. Spread the 6 parchment hearts in a single layer on a work surface. Divide the scallops and asparagus evenly among them, placing them on the right half of each heart. Season with salt and pepper and dot with the orange butter. Fold the left half of each heart over the filling and, beginning at one end, fold and crease the edges together securely so no juices will escape. Place in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

Bake until the packets have puffed considerably, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on warmed individual plates. Cut open the top of each packet with scissors and serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Spring, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).