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The scalloping gourmet's fast food Quick fix: Scallops take only minutes to cook but pack a powerful taste punch paired with spinach salad.


Scallops are a handy tool for the cook in a hurry: the plump, meaty bivalves come already shucked, and they need only minutes to cook. The bright flavors in the main dish pair well with the deeper notes in a spinach salad tossed with a black-olive vinaigrette. A warm loaf of crusty Italian bread balances all.

Fusilli with scallops and fennel

Serves 4

1 large fennel bulb with feathery tops

3/4 pound spinach or plain fusilli or rotini

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 pound bay or sea scallops, halved or quartered if large

1 tablespoon Pernod or other anise-flavored liquor

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Finely chop feathery fennel tops and measure 2 tablespoons; set aside. Cut off green stalks and discard. Quarter the bulb lengthwise; remove any heavy outer layer and part of the core. Cut crosswise into very thin slices; set aside.

2. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add garlic and the sliced fennel; saute until the fennel is somewhat tender and begins to color, about 3 minutes. Add scallops and saute until opaque in the center, 2 minutes more. Add Pernod and cook for 30 seconds more.

4. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Add the scallop mixture, lemon juice and lemon zest; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with the reserved chopped fennel leaves and serve.

Per serving: 495 calories; 31 grams protein; 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 76 grams carbohydrate; 246 milligrams sodium; 38 milligrams cholesterol.

Spinach salad with black-olive vinaigrette

Serves 4

TC 1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar or lemon juice

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

1 tablespoon defatted reduced-sodium chicken broth

6 imported black olives, preferably kalamata, pitted and finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

6 cups washed, dried and torn spinach leaves (6 ounces)

1/2 cucumber, seeded and sliced

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

In a salad bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, chicken broth, olives and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Add spinach, cucumbers and onions; toss well.

Per serving: 85 calories; 3 grams protein; 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated fat); 7 grams carbohydrate; 98 milligrams sodium; 0 milligrams cholesterol.

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