Scallops are my all time favorite seafood. Always have been since I was a kid. I remember as a kid there were take out restaurants everywhere that served fish and chips. For some reason there aren’t any left. My Great Aunt Maude and my Grandfather used to bring my brother and I to the take outs and say “order what you want”. I always ordered fried scallops and my brother clams. Those were the days.
I saw a recipe on Ciao Italia. Mary Ann’s recipe is seared scallops with spinach. I am not a lover of cooked spinach so decided I would replace with escarole. Hence my version of her recipe Seared Scallops and Escarole.
Firstly most people I talk to, have no idea there is a difference between dry and wet scallops. Wet scallops are treated with sodium or a solution called STP. They are treated out at sea to keep them fresh on boats that are out to sea for days. Scallops absorb water. So the scallops are much heavier and you get much less per pound than you would dry. Plus you are eating the solution they are treated with and they taste like it. They are tasteless! They are very white in color so its not hard to tell standing in front of the seafood case that they are wet scallops. Dry scallops are more pink or beige in color. Dry scallops or “day boat scallops” are more healthy for you, taste 1000% better, are super sweet and hold a sear much better as they don’t have all the water coming out of them.
When I go out to eat and see scallops on the menu, I always ask if they are dry. Some have no idea what I am talking about, some say yes and when the meal comes I find out that is not the truth and some know right away what they are serving. So it really is a crap shoot what you get when you go out to eat. And be careful some of the best restaurants “do not” served dry scallops. It could be because the price this past weekend was $21.99 a pound. I got 3/4 pound which gave me 16 scallops. Perfect. 8 for me and 8 for you…. I think I have come to the point of avoiding ordering scallops so I won’t be disappointed….
Back to the recipe. In Mary Ann’s recipe, she used spinach. I do not like a heap of sauteed spinach. Too slimy for me. It’s a texture thing. There is one thing I make all the time and would be perfect….Escarole. I love it as a side sauteed in a little olive oil and garlic. Quick, easy and delicious.The recipe calls for you to roast the cherry tomatoes in the oven. I didn’t have time for a weeknight meal, so I sauteed them in a little olive oil on the stove until the skins started to burst and they started to wilt. Actually I did the escarole and tomatoes at the same time in separate pans. Yes, multi tasking….The sauce is super easy to make.
Once the tomatoes, escarole and sauce are ready, it’s time to saute the scallops. Heat a saute pan with some olive oil until it’s very hot. Coat scallops in a little flour or Wondra, and put in the hot saute pan. Cook for about 2 minutes a side, and you will see a nice sear on both sides. If you have a instant thermometer, inside temp should be 115 degrees. If they sit a few minutes, the carry over temperature should end up 125 to 130 degrees F which is perfect. They don’t take long.
Lay the escarole on the plate on the center. Arrange the tomatoes around the edge. Place the scallops on the bed of escarole and drizzle with the lemon caper sauce.
This is super easy to prepare and super delicious and healthy for you.
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon capers (preferably in salt, well rinsed, otherwise jarred in brine)
1/2 cup Wondra flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound dry sea scallops, dried on paper towels
2 clove of garlic, peeled sliced or minced
half of a head of escarole, sliced
Lemon wedge for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toss the tomatoes in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil and spread them on a non-stick baking sheet. Roast them for 25 minutes or until they shrivel. Set aside.
In a small pot, melt the butter, remove from heat, add the lemon juice, zest and capers. Set aside.
Place flour in a bag or shallow dish; add salt and pepper to taste. Add the dried scallops to bag a few at a time and coat in flour; transfer to a plate.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a sauté pan. When oil begins to shimmer, add the scallops and cook about 2 minutes on each side or until crusty. Transfer them to a warm dish. Set aside.
In same sauté pan, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add garlic and press on it to flavor the oil; when it begins to turn golden, remove. Add spinach and cook over medium heat until spinach wilts.
Divide spinach between 4 plates. Divide and top spinach with scallops. Divide and add roasted tomatoes around plate. Ladle some of the butter sauce over the dishes and sprinkle them with thyme; add a lemon wedge for garnish.