Scallops can be roasted, sautÃ©ed, poached or grilled. I like to grill them so they have a crisp outer texture and a creamy interior. Make sure to use the larger sea scallops for this recipe.
Here I combine sea scallops with my homemade pesto (although I certainly have prepared this a multitude of times using commercial pesto). If you are rushed, pick up a good store-bought pesto. Any leftover pesto is great as a flavor enhancer for pasta, eggs or as a marinade for chicken. And an extra tip is that you can use any pesto variation you like: mixed herbs, walnut, pistachio or even sun-dried tomato pesto.
Try using a ridged non-stick skillet, my favorite indoor grilling tool, for cooking the pesto-marinated scallops. Skewering the scallops on short wooden sticks makes them easier to cook evenly on both sides. Once cooked, they are drizzled with a ribbon of balsamic glaze, giving the dish a professional and elegant presentation.
Balsamic glaze or syrup can be used on any number of dishes. You'll find it in the supermarket next to balsamic vinegar or with the salad dressings, or you can make it yourself. In a non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat, boil down inexpensive balsamic vinegar by half, or until it becomes syrupy and slightly thickened but not burned. Store it in a glass container with a spout in the refrigerator. Use it on salads, as a sauce or as a flavor enhancer.
Begin this meal with a green salad with avocado and grapefruit sections. Alongside the scallops I like to serve cooked orzo, fusilli pasta or quinoa, and broccoli or asparagus. This sophisticated, yet Seriously Simple dinner is good enough for family or guests. It's easy, it's creative and it's satisfying. To drink? Try a New Zealand sauvignon blanc or a French or California viognier.
Grilled Pesto Scallops with Balsamic Glaze
Serves 4 to 6.
1 1/2 tablespoons All-Purpose Basil Pesto (recipe follows) or favorite commercially made pesto
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds large sea scallops
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (homemade or store-bought), plus more for drizzling
1. Combine pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place scallops in a lock-top plastic bag and pour in marinade. Make sure marinade is evenly distributed. Close bag and refrigerate for 1/2 to 2 hours.
2. If using bamboo skewers, soak them in cold water for 1 hour to prevent them from burning while grilling. When ready to grill, thread scallops onto skewers.
3. Prepare barbecue or grill pan for medium-high heat grilling. If using a barbecue, grill scallops about 3 inches from flame for 3 to 4 minutes per side until cooked as desired. If using a grill pan, place the threaded scallops on a hot grill pan and grill for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side until cooked as desired. (They should be seared on the outside and just cooked in the center.) Place brochettes on a serving platter and drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve immediately.
All-Purpose Basil Pesto
Makes about 1 1/4 cups.
2 medium garlic cloves
2 cups medium-packed fresh basil leaves (about 2 medium bunches)
1/2 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1. While the motor is running, add garlic cloves to food processor and process until pureed. Add the basil and parsley and process until finely chopped. Add the pine nuts and finely chop. With the blades turning, slowly pour in the olive oil in a fine stream. Add pepper.
2. Just before serving, add cheese and process until well blended. Taste for seasoning. Refrigerate the pesto in a tightly covered container for up to 1 week or until ready to use.
(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including "Seriously Simple Holidays," and also a James Beard award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at http://www.seriouslysimple.com.)
(c) 2014, DIANE ROSSEN WORTHINGTON. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLCCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun