As fun as it is to experiment in the kitchen and try complicated recipes (braise, smoke, etc), most days we ain’t got time for that. These longer almost-summer days mean we’re out in the sunshine after school or work shredding till sunset, and when we get home at 8 we’re not trying to get all fancy and long-winded in the kitchen.
So what, then? PB and J? No! Shells and cheese? No! Cali Burrito? Maybe!
How about this instead:
Some seared shellfish with something healthy and filling. This dinner can come together in literally 10 minutes.
It also only takes one pan if you’re quick about it, so clean up is nothing. It comes out really impressive, and is so clean to eat. It’s feel good food, you might say.
Scallops can be scary because they’re always in the fancy restaurants, but they really are dead easy to prepare as long as you stick to some steps,
- Large scallops
- A bundle of swiss chard (or kale or spinach or something dark and green)
- Salt and Pepper, and oil
- A lemon
- A couple garlic cloves
- Splash of white wine or vermouth (you’ve got vermouth in your bar, right?)
- A heavy skillet. And don’t use a non-stick skillet… it seems counterintuitive, but the non-stick surface will keep you from a nice sear. The oil and a proper sear will make sure the scallops release from the pan.
- First, wash and make sure your scallops are very dry before they hit the pan. If not, they will steam and splatter instead of sear. So dry them well. A while fresh scallops are best, I tend to buy a big bag of frozen ones from the Asian market and keep them in the freezer for late dinners like this.
- Second, they need heavy salt and pepper, so add that right before they hit the pan.
- Third, lots of heat. Get that pan screaming hot. Once the pan is hot, add some oil.
- Last, most important, once the scallops go on, don’t touch them. Don’t poke them, don’t shake the pan, just watch them go. You’ve been working hard in the kitchen for a heavy 5 minutes now, so you deserve a breather. Cook for about 2 minutes per side and don’t touch them once you flip them.
For the chard, get some garlic slivers and red pepper flakes going in the same pan as your scallops (after you’ve removed them… in the time the scallops are resting, the chard can be cooked and you can save cleaning another pan). Once the garlic is fragrant, add the chard, a splash of white wine or vermouth, and a good pinch of salt. Cover and let it wilt slightly, but don’t overcook to a mush!
Arrange everything on a plate, and finish it all with a squeeze of lemon. Eat! —Paul Brewer