Valentine's Day Recap: Pan-Seared Scallop Prosciutto Pods and Arugula Salad
The clock struck 6:45. My husband and I headed to Whole Foods to buy scallops and other confidential ingredients for a top secret dinner he'd been planning. It seems everyone else had scallops on their menu as well; the seafood area was picked over, and scallops were nowhere to be found. In the midst of my Cody’s mini panic attack as I watched his dinner dream collapse, I chimed in and suggested we call a seafood market. The closest market—Welton’s—was closed, so we phoned Dockside.
“Hi! Do you have scallops?” he asked in a somewhat controlled panic.
“Um, yes, but we close at 7,” they replied, unable to understand the breadth of our scallop situation.
We raced out of Whole Foods, groceries in hand, and after being stopped at every red light, I pulled into…the wrong parking lot. Ah fiddlesticks! Cody ran across the parking lot, I pulled the car around, parked and saw him holding the bag of scallops in sweet victory.
Fast forward a couple hours later, and I was gifted the tastiest, gourmet home-cooked dinner to date. Picture a salad of spicy, quick-pickled cucumber and arugula tossed in a homemade blue cheese dressing, topped with pan-seared scallops in prosciutto pods. Drizzle a spicy basil-walnut aioli across the plate, and dinner is served! Phew, good thing I married a man who knows the only way to my heart is to feed my belly.
Though the acclaimed “day of love” has passed, there’s always an excuse to take the time to make a fancy dinner for your honey. Here’s a recipe to keep in your back pocket:
Pan-Seared Scallop Prosciutto Pods and Arugula Salad
Total Time: 90 minutes
Spicy Basil-Walnut Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup basil, finely diced
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 serrano pepper, finely diced (measure to desired spiciness)
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups arugula
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, spiraled
Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp truffle oil
splash white wine
fresh ground pepper
8 roughly square-shaped slices of prosciutto (or 4 long slices cut in half)
6 fresh scallops
coarse salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1. Preheat oven to 350. Wrap and pat the scallops between paper towels to dry them out as much as possible.
2. Make the aioli. In a food processor or blender, add all aioli ingredients and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Pickle the cucumber. Combine quick-pickled cucumber ingredients to a large bowl and allow to pickle for 10–15 minutes. Strain cucumber spirals from vinegar and chilis, and set aside.
4. Make blue cheese vinaigrette. Combine the components into a bowl. Smash the blue cheese with a spoon, and whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
5. Combine the salad. In a large bowl, add the pickled cucumber, arugula, toasted walnuts and blue cheese dressing. Toss to combine
6. Prepare the prosciutto pods. Bake all 8 slices of prosciutto for 10 minutes or until toasted and edges curl. Set aside 6 pods. Chop the other 2 into bits, and add to the arugula salad.
7. Make sure the scallops are patted dry as possible. Sprinkle, then press coarse salt and freshly ground pepper on each side of the scallops. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high, and add grapeseed oil. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the scallops and allow space around each one. Once the scallops touch the pan, do not move them; this is vital for the perfect sear. After 90 seconds, flip the scallops using tongs. They should have a nice brown crust. Add butter to the center of the skillet, and cook for another 90 seconds, basting the scallops with spoonfuls of the melted butter. This helps with the browning. Remove the scallops, and set aside.
8. On two plates, arrange a rectangular bed of salad. Place 3 prosciutto pods on each bed and a scallop atop each pod. Spread the aioli on each side of the bed, pour two tall glasses of your finest chardonnay and dinner is served.