Thursday, March 31, 2011

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree

I've always envied those grocery store shoppers who can walk up to a meat or seafood counter and demand specific cuts or filets with the confidence that suggests they sautee sirloin or roast oysters on a nightly basis. I've only recently gathered the gumption to walk up to the deli counter to request turkey slices for my lunch sandwiches. I used to go for the over-priced pre-packaged stuff in the front of the deli case until I realized the stuff in the case was often on sale and you get a free sample if you ask for it.
This past weekend I got to be that person at the seafood counter. I proudly walked up to the seamonger (right terminology?) in Whole Foods and said "I would like a pound and a half of your jumbo scallops please!" And then about passed out when I saw the price slapped on the package he handed me.

Needless to say, this was the first time I had ever cooked with scallops and OMG, why have I not done this before? (The expense being the number one factor, but still . . . ) This dish was unbelievably easy -- so easy you wonder if you are doing it right and if that really is
all there could be to seared scallops. Even I couldn't screw this up and the smell . . . oh let me tell you . . . when you place the scallops in a hot pan with oil the most delicious aroma occurs. Even Newt-the-cat came out from his evening nap to give his accolades.

And this dish, although appearing fancy schmancy, is like the people's champion of meals because it is special enough for a weekend dinner but easy enough for a weeknight. Either way, nothing brightens up a dreary Tuesday (or Wednesday, or Thursday as is the trend this week) than to say "I think I'll sear some scallops tonight. And I'll make cauliflower puree to go with it." Oh yes, you can be that person too.

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, March 2011 Issue
Available online here.

2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup cubed peeled Yukon gold potato
1 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon canola oil (or enough to coat a saute pan large enough for your scallops)
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Bring first four ingredients to a boil in a saucepan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes, uncovered (I may have left mine covered and it did not make a difference). Heat a large skillet over high heat and add oil, swirling to coat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with some of the salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan; cooking 3 minutes on each side or until you feel they are done enough. (Mine were pretty spot on with the three minutes/side.) Pour cauliflower mixture in a blender -- reserve some of the liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, butter and red pepper. Remove center piece of blender lid to let steam escape and secure lid on blender. Blend until smooth. Add reserved liquid bit by bit to get the puree to your desired consistency. Serve puree with scallops.

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