Chris Hastings shares his recipe for Grilled Jumbo Asparagus with Head-On Florida Hoppers and Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette.

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Florida hoppers are not frogs! They are a variety of pink shrimp with a distinctive red spot on their tail. Beloved by boat captains and land lovers alike, the hopper is one of our favorites of the five wild, American shrimp varieties. 

Serves 6

12 large, shell-on, Florida hoppers or other large, pink shrimp      

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (about 1/2 lemon)

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 fresh thyme sprigs, picked and coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh basil

1/2 fresh garlic clove, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

18 jumbo asparagus, trimmed, peeled and blanched

3/4 cup Preserved Lemon Vinaigrette (page 000)

1/2 cup loosely packed microgreens

Combine the shrimp, lemon zest, parsley, thyme, basil, garlic, and olive oil in a large bowl, tossing to coat well. Season the shrimp with the salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate the shrimp for at least 2 hours.

Soak 3 (12-inch) wooden skewers in cold water for at least 20 minutes before grilling. Preheat the grill to medium-high (350˚F to 400˚ F). Remove the shrimp from the marinade and skewer 4 shrimp onto each wooden skewer. Grill the shrimp skewers over medium heat until shrimp are slightly charred and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the shrimp from the skewers and set them aside to cool slightly. Peel the shrimp, leaving the last tail segment intact and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

Just before serving, place the asparagus, grilled shrimp, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Toss well and season lightly with salt and pepper, if needed. Arrange 3 asparagus spears on each of 6 plates. Place 2 shrimp on top of each serving of asparagus. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette from the bowl around each plate. Garnish each plate with about 2 tablespoons of the microgreens and serve immediately.

Published, B-Metro magazine, April 2011