I’m not sure there is anything you can’t fry. Shouldn’t fry? Maybe. But can’t… not convinced. I try not to fry too much, and certainly never deep fry. While I’m not a big scallop fan, nor am I the big scallop fan (sea scallop over bay scallop), lightly frying these and placing them over a robust sauce and a creamy polenta disc may have changed my mind… Never mind the salad which was so simple with bagged baby lettuce leaves, marinated artichoke hearts and a homemade lime dressing… This was an easy, filling meal.
You will need:
- Polenta (log – some come already seasoned)
- Salt and pepper
- Dried basil
- Grated parmesan
- Egg (two, depending on how many scallops you are cooking – I cooked ten)
- Scallops (sea scallop)
- Bagged or head of lettuce
- Olive oil
- Yellow mustard
- Lime (one)
- Artichoke hearts (canned, one)
- Roasted red peppers (one jar)
- Salt and pepper cashews (one small bag)
I always like to get the easy stuff out of the way first. In this case, it was the sauce for the scallops. I love, love, love roasted red peppers. I don’t roast them myself, and I don’t have a favorite brand; any jar you find is fine. Get a food processor out and plop in a generous amount of the red peppers (drain the jar first) and place the remaining peppers in a separate container (you don’t want to leave them in the fridge in the jar, it’s not good for you). You can certainly make two batches and keep the leftover sauce… It would be fantastic with chicken, roasted veggies or salmon.
Put in the majority of the cashews, saving the rest for the rest of the peppers if you’re going to do two batches and just blend everything until it gets creamy. These two ingredients: roasted red pepper and salt and pepper cashews make a sauce with a smoky flavor and creamy texture that really will surprise you. Put the sauce aside and start slicing your polenta.
These packages are sealed with water. Just know this when you go to cut into it. I slice it a bit in the middle and then put it over the sink and pull apart the two halves, remove the plastic and start slicing as evenly as I can. Put olive oil in a pan and heat it on medium.
When hot, place your polenta in the pan remembering to move them slightly and often so they don’t stick. I just wanted them creamy so I didn’t cook them on either side for too long.
They are really good crispy so, if you want to try that just leave them on their sides until you see them turn a dark golden color.
As they sauté, go ahead and prep your salad dressing. In a small glass or container (I like to use a measuring cup because I can whisk and pour from the same container), put a generous amount of yellow mustard (a tablespoon or more), one half of your lime’s juice, salt and pepper (to taste) and then while whisking, pour in olive oil. You’ll want to whisk while your pour the oil so that it emulsifies. Pour until the amount doubles in size.
At this point, you will have also been cooking all your polenta discs. As they finish, place in them on a platter how you’d like to serve them and let them cool. This is a meal I served room temperature. Certainly if you’d like everything very hot, you’ll be cooking the polenta in one pan with the scallops in the other and would plate right away.
When the polenta discs are all done, go ahead and put some sauce on them.
In a container or bowl, prep your artichoke hearts. I get them canned and already quartered if available. Just makes things easier. Put in the whole can, use kitchen shears if you’d like, and cut all the way through to make them smaller. Of course you can leave them whole instead. Put a tablespoon of olive oil, three tablespoons of grated parmesan and two tablespoons of dried basil. Pop the top on if you have this in a tupperware container and shake everything till coated and blended Otherwise, stir it all till combined.
Leave them aside to marinate. This is especially good to do overnight or, right before a charcuterie tray. I leave them quartered or whole when doing this with tooth pics.
Get out three shallow bowls to start your dredging station. In the first bowl place your flour, second crack and whisk your eggs with a splash of water and in the third put enough panko for the amount of scallops you’re serving. Combine with the flour some salt and pepper. Combine with the panko two to three tablespoons of grated parmesan (again, depending on the amount of panko), same amount of dried basil and some salt and pepper. I tend to just eyeball this.
Make sure to pat dry your scallops and start them in the flour, then egg and then finally the seasoned panko. In a heated pan (preheat on medium) with the olive oil, place each scallop and leave them on their one side for three to four minutes. Since a scallop really only needs about two minutes per side when doing a simple sauté, I went with the color I wanted them to be instead of an exact time. This is preferential so, I left them to get as dark as I could, flipping them and cooking them the same amount of time (four minutes). Then, I put them aside and worked in batches.
While they finished, I put the lettuce in the bowl and placed all the marinated hearts on top. I did not stir the salad, I wanted to leave the hearts covering most of the top. After the scallops were done, I placed the them over the polenta and then whisked again the dressing before pouring over the salad. I wanted to leave the dressing to the end as the hearts will continue to marinate and I wanted to let them do that as well as not dress the salad to make sure it didn’t wilt before we wanted to eat it.
From start to finish, this meal only took about twenty minutes. Surprisingly, just two scallops filled us up however, perhaps it shouldn’t have been so shocking. The polenta is hearty and the sauce robust. Then you have the larger of the two scallops, meaty and breaded.
The salad was a welcome simple finish with the bright lime and mustard viniagrette.
Save the sauce recipe and try it elsewhere! It will keep in the fridge and thicken just a bit from the cashews but, add a little water or olive oil to thin it out again.
Below you will find the table setting for this meal: Salad bowl and matching napkins from Williams Sonoma. China plates are Lenox. Silverware is Napoleon Bee. Platter and salad server are both CB2. Decanter and glasses are Riedel. Crystal is Waterford.