Let’s pretend it hasn’t been a month since my last post. Let’s pretend that, as promised, I moved through the lovely queue that had built up in my WordPress account. All the lovely stuff I worked on while I had time off from work was posted as planned, and I’m not writing about stuff that already happened months ago.
Anyway, my cooking group, 37 Cooks? We had an interesting event a couple of months ago. This Florida restaurant called The Wine Dive challenged us to create dishes – incorporating a protein, vegetable, and starch – that could be served as specials in their restaurant. The options were limitless so long as our entries incorporated wine in some way. For me, it was an easy decision to use scallops. The Wine Dive is in Florida, right on the coast, and I could imagine that people would go there hoping for delicious fresh seafood. A beet and arugula salad seemed like a nice light pairing to the dish, especially using a sauce made from citrus – another Florida specialty. Although my dish didn’t win the contest, it still tasted great!
Seared Scallops with Shiraz-Blood Orange Glazed Beet and Arugula Salad and Toasted Walnut Couscous
For the scallops:
1/2 pound large dry sea scallops
Grapeseed oil (or other neutral oil)
For the wine-glazed beet and arugula salad:
1 small to medium beet
2-4 ounces arugula
1/4 cup medium-bodied red wine, such as Shiraz or Merlot
juice of one blood orange (or substitute a regular orange if you can’t find it)
2 tablespoons butter
For the couscous:
1/2 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whole walnuts
For all three components, you will need salt and pepper to taste.
Make wine-blood orange glazed beet and arugula salad:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Scrub your beet, wrap it in tinfoil, and roast for an hour or two until tender when pierced with a fork. At this point, the skin should slip right off. Allow it to cool, then peel the beet and dice it. In a small saute pan heated over medium, saute the beets in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper until heated through. Add the Shiraz and orange juice. Allow the liquid to come to a boil and bubble away until it coats the beets. Add butter and turn the heat down to low, stirring frequently until the beets are coated in glaze.
Meanwhile, toss the arugula in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Top with glazed beets.
Make the couscous:
In a small or medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Season it with salt, pepper, butter, and walnut oil. Add the couscous, stir once, and turn the heat off. Cover the saucepan with its lid and allow it to steam for five minutes.
Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a small saute pan over medium heat. Allow them to cool, then chop them finely.
Lift the lid and fluff the couscous with a fork after the five minutes are up. Stir in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving some for garnish.
Make the scallops:
Heat a large cast-iron saute pan over medium-high. Season the scallops with salt, pepper, and just a little bit of oil. When the pan is good and hot, sear the scallops, allowing them to cook for a couple of minutes on each side. Be sure to leave them alone and not nudge them until they’re good and browned! Then flip and brown on the other side.
Plate the couscous and top with reserved chopped walnuts. Plate the beet and arugula salad, and top with scallops. This portion will serve two adults.