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Don’t let the title of this recipe intimidate you. Cooking scallops is quick and easy. They are full of flavor, low in calories and simple to dress up. Serve this dish with quinoa or roasted potatoes and you have a complete meal. I like to double the salsa recipe and grill chicken breast while I’m making this, so I have lunch for the next day.
Serves 2 or Appetizer for 4
8-10 jumbo sea scallops
1 ear corn, husk removed
2/3 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 shallot, finely minced
1/2 cup white wine
Juice of one lemon
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp agave or honey
Salt and pepper, for sprinkling
2 cups arugula
NOTE: This is the time to splurge on high quality scallops if possible. Look for big, plump scallops as they will be the freshest and have the most flavor.
1. The most important step when cooking scallops is to absorb as much water from them as possible, so they get a good sear on them. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towel. Set scallops on the paper towel and lay another double layer of paper towel over the top. Press lightly to absorb liquid. If the scallops were frozen and then defrosted there may be a lot of liquid and you may have to repeat this step. Let the scallops sit on the paper towel for 5 minutes so the towel continues to absorb any excess liquid.
2. Heat grill to medium high. Grill corn until charred on all sides, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from grill and cut kernels off by holding corn upright in a small bowl and slicing downward with a knife, so the kernels fall into the bowl.
3. In a medium sized pan, heat one-tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and a sprinkle of salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes. Next, whisk in wine, lemon and agave or honey and let reduce for another 5 minutes. Finally, add the corn and tomatoes and cook in the sauce for a final 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat and cover to keep warm.
4. Pour the other tablespoon of olive oil into an extra large non-stick pan. Rub it around the pan with a paper towel (this way the pan absorbs the oil, not the scallops). Heat the pan over medium-high making sure it gets really hot.
5. Sprinkle the scallops with a very small amount of salt and pepper. Place the scallops in the pan and sear for approximately 2 – 2½ minutes, until they have a golden crust. The scallops should not touch each other in the pan. Do this in two batches if you don’t have a large pan because if the scallops are crowded they will create water in the pan and won’t sear.
6. Turn the scallops and sear for another 1 – 1½ minutes. Remove from heat and cover for 1-2 minutes. By doing this, the scallops will finish cooking while covered without over cooking.
7. Lay arugula on a long platter or large plate. Arrange scallops over the arugula. Poor corn and tomato salsa, with all the sauce, over the top.
Jessica Cerra is the owner of Fit Food by Jess, a private chef and catering company in Encinitas, Calif. She is also a professional Xterra triathlete and mountain biker. Follow Jess’ recipes on her “Fit Food by Jess” Facebook page.