Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gourmet at Home: Scallop Piccata with Sautéed Spinach

What a weekend! After a long and grueling week at work, my husband and I met some dear friends for dinner on Friday night, and met their sweet little baby girl. She is a perfect little baby and slept through the whole meal! I was able to keep my own eyes open long enough to give her some hugs and kisses. It was such an uplifting end to a dismal week. On Saturday we moved my widowed, elderly mother-in-law out of her house and into an apartment. By the time my husband and I arrived home we had eaten some take-out pizza and barely finished a beer and glass of wine, respectively, before we crashed on the couch.

Today I was able to get in a few errands, a nap on the couch, and I still put together a dinner that I had been wanting to make for several weeks. I had a bag of scallops in my freezer, brown rice in my pantry, and was just waiting for the right time to try a new recipe I had seen in a recent edition of Cooking Light. I was able to test it tonight, and notwithstanding out preoccupied weekend, we were able to relish a gourmet meal at home to cap off the expeditious weekend.

This recipe makes a full meal (protein, vegetable, starch), and you can cook it all in one pan. It calls for vermicelli or brown rice as a side dish, and I opted to use a bag of precooked brown rice that I purchased at Trader Joe's, and is ready after 60 seconds in the microwave. The Vermouth is very pronounced in the sauce, with a hint of lemon. This dinner is quite healthy (particularly if you’re using brown rice instead of pasta). The trick to getting a good sear on your scallops is to dry them off first with a paper towel, have a very hot pan, and to leave them and walk away (fiddling with them in the pan is going to ruin your sear). I repeat: leave them and walk away for 2 minutes!!

While we were eating this for dinner, my husband and I were saying that it seemed like a meal we’d not only order in a restaurant, but one that we’d be talking about for the rest of the night, and that we’d go back to that restaurant for again and again. Lucky for us we only need one pan and a Sunday night to enjoy it again and again.

Scallop Piccata with Sautéed Spinach
(From Cooking Light, November 2009)

Serve on a bed of angel hair pasta, linguine, or brown rice, if desired.

* 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops (about 12)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 5 teaspoons canola oil, divided
* 1 garlic clove, chopped
* 1/2 cup vermouth
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 4 teaspoons capers
* 1 (10-ounce) package fresh baby spinach

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels. Sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper over scallops. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add scallops; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned and done. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped garlic to pan; cook 10 seconds. Add vermouth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Add parsley, fresh lemon juice, butter, and capers, stirring until butter melts. Pour sauce in a bowl.

Heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add spinach; sauté 30 seconds or until spinach almost wilts. Drizzle sauce over scallops; serve with spinach.

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