Hip Hip Hooray – It’s Independence Day & Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad

Fireworks_02The Fourth of July celebrates our country’s Declaration of Independence. Back in 1776 George Washington, John Hancock and a lot of other important people signed the declaration to break from tyrannical England and mad King George. Americans began celebrating the Fourth the very next year. The infant country celebrated with parades and band concerts. Politicians hobnobbed, gave speeches and made toasts at official dinners. The day was topped off with fireworks.

Not much has changed. Independence Day is still feted with parades, patriotic music and fireworks. It may not be an election year but you can still count on a few politicians to make the rounds, shaking hands and kissing babies. Family and friends gather for cook-outs and picnics. In addition and unlike our forefathers, we make it a long weekend. We don’t just celebrate the Fourth, our fun goes on for several days.

Pleasant Lake is my favorite place to spend the Fourth of July. I have celebrated in Boston with the Pops, huge crowds and thousands of pounds of fireworks. I have joined expatriates and locals in Geneva, Switzerland for the largest Independence Day party outside the US. Nothing but nothing compares to Independence Day celebrations on Pleasant Lake. What we may lack size and grandeur; we make up in enthusiasm.

On a hot day it can be tough to get even the most patriotic citizens off the beach and on to Main Street so lots of New Hampshire lakes host boat parades. Participation on Pleasant Lake varies from year to year. Sometimes there is a veritable armada of ships under sail, motor and paddle. The boats are covered with splendid decorations and their crews are decked out in colorful costumes. This year’s theme is Broadway Hits. So get out your Kinky Boots or Spidey suit and join the flotilla.

As a walker, I try not to miss the Run/Walk for the Lake. This annual event includes a 5K and 10K route. Benefiting both the Pleasant Lake Protective Association and the New London Fire Department, it is great fun and good exercise. Feel free to indulge in an extra s’more at the cookout on Saturday night. You can walk or run it off on Sunday morning.

Pleasant Lake is by far my favorite place to walk. There are a few hills along the route but with luck you’ll catch a breeze. Hopefully the loons will be on hand and lend you some encouragement with their distinctive call. In case you miss me; slow but steady, I’ll be bringing up the rear.

The fireworks on Pleasant Lake are the highlight of every Independence Day celebration. The evening starts with picnics and cookouts from one end of the lake to the other. As dusk falls, the crowd grows and anticipation mounts. Flares are lit all along the shore. Excited children dance about with sparklers while their anxious parents keep a watchful eye. And hold their breath. There are usually a few minor scrapes and tears but, knock wood, no trips to the emergency room.

Finally the fireworks explode in the night sky followed by a chorus of oooohs and aaaaahs. The evening ends with a spectacular grand finale. Sporting sunburned noses and an array of mosquito bites, we stumble home with empty coolers, sandy beach towels and sleepy grins.

Wishing you a red hot Fourth of July and bon appétit!

Grilled Scallop & Asparagus Salad
A bit more elegant than a hot dog or hamburger, try this delicious combination at your next cookout. Enjoy!
Serves 6
1 1/2 – 2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 – 2 pounds sea scallops
4-6 ounces mixed baby greens
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced
6-8 Gaea or Castelvetrano olives, pitted and slivered
About 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
About 1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat the grill to high heat.

Put the asparagus in a large baking dish or shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Pat the scallops dry and place them in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Place the asparagus on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes or until tender crisp. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with half of the lemon zest and juice and toss to combine.

Place the scallops on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the grill, sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and juice and toss to combine.

Put the greens and scallions in a large bowl, add enough Vinaigrette Niçoise to lightly coat and toss to combine. Mound the greens on a large platter or individual plates, artfully top with warm asparagus and sprinkle with olives, feta and pecans. Top with warm scallops and serve immediately.

Vinaigrette Niçoise
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 cloves garlic
1 (about 1/8-inch thick) slice red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon (or to taste) hot pepper sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup (or to taste) extra virgin olive oil

Put the lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in the blender. Season with salt and pepper and process until the garlic and onion are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and process until thick and creamy.

Transfer the dressing to a storage container with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, give the container a vigorous shake to recombine the ingredients.

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One Year Ago – Watermelon & Feta Salad
Two Years Ago – Grilled Salmon with Lemon-Basil Aioli
Three Years Ago – Mediterranean Shrimp
Four Years Ago – Grilled Hoisin Pork
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

How will you spend the Fourth of July? Filled with activities or lolling about? Maybe a bit of both! Feel free to share. Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook as well as a day in the life photoblog! In addition, I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. © Susan W. Nye, 2013

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