One of my favourite salads to make as summer rolls around is my fabulous Grilled Seafood Salad with tiger shrimp, jumbo scallops and calamari together with grilled asparagus, fresh avocado and small new potatoes. Tossed with a couple of simple marinades, the seafood can be cleaned and prepped well in advance and pulled together at the last minute. As with any summer salad, improvisation is key, adding whatever you have readily available. The idea is to compose a fresh and flavourful hastle-free salad with a treasure trove of grilled seafood and a riot of your favourite veggies nestled on top, for an easy evening meal once the warm weather finally arrives for good.
Grilled Seafood Salad
10 large tiger shrimp
4 large scallops
4 whole squid with heads, cleaned
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
8 baby potatoes, boiled until just done, and halved
1 lb asparagus, with ends trimmed
1 head red oak leaf lettuce, cleaned, washed and torn into bite size pieces
1/4 english cucumber, thinly sliced
2 marinated roasted red peppers, julienned
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp pure sesame oil
1 tsp hot chili oil
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp fresh basil pesto
Parmesan-Reggiano, shaved as garnish, optional
2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Peel and devein the shrimp, leaving the tail intact. Gently run a small knife down the centre of the backs to butterfly the shrimp. Coat with 2 tablespoons of basil pesto and allow to marinate, covered in a small bowl or plastic bag, for at least an hour.
Place the squid on a cutting board and slice each tube in half lengthwise. Lay each of the pieces of squid flat. Score the squid with diagonal slices, cutting through half the thickness, scoring first one way, then the other to create diamond-shaped cuts. Then trim the heads, removing and discarding the beak of the squid. Coat with 1 tsp of hot chili oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the salad dressing, place the garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times until minced. Add the other ingredients and pulse until emulsified. Cover and set aside.
Place the scallops and asparagus in two separate bowls, brush the scallops with sesame oil and the asparagus with the olive oil, cover and set aside.
To grill the seafood, place the shrimp, squid, scallops and asparagus on a preheated BBQ and cook until the seafood is opaque and nicely grill marked, and the asparagus is cooked through. The squid and heads should curl up nicely.
To prepare the salad, place the lettuce, cucumber and salad dressing in a large bowl and toss to combine. To serve, place the dressed salad on a large platter, then on top, decoratively arrange the boiled new potatoes, marinated red peppers and tomatoes, then top with the grilled asparagus and seafood. Using a vegetable peeler, garnish with some shaved Parmesan-Reggiano if desired.