We are just back from a family trip to Croatia that I hope to share with you in a future post. Suffice it to say, there has not been a lot of cooking happening at our house since I left you off a couple of weeks ago!
I don’t know how you feel about the return to the kitchen after an extended break, but I truly don’t mind reconnecting with my pots and pans to churn out some delicious meals that are custom built for us. After a long stretch of eating out, it’s nice to be in control of the menu and create some lighter meals to reset the body. Having said all that, I wouldn’t object if someone magically showed up to do the shopping and the clean up!
The first meal I chose to make is something I thought was appropriate to share on the blog because it is easy enough to serve as a weeknight wonder, while also able to morph into something more elegant to share with company.
You could even serve it as a small first course to a larger group.
Is it a Father’s Day dinner? Well, it could be for the Dad in our family given his love of pepper, but I have some other ideas listed at the bottom of the post just in case you were looking for something different.
Today’s post is based on a recipe I’ve had in my hard copy collection for-ever. I tore it out of the Boston Globe so many years ago, you can’t find it online! I’m dating myself, I know!
The original recipe was for Swordfish Au Poivre, written by one of my longtime favorite past contributors to the Globe, Sally Sampson. Sampson is also the author of a wonderful cookbook in my collection named The Fifty Dollar Dinner Party. It is one of the only cookbooks I have seen that offers 26 complete menus for six people that are designed not to “break your bank, your back or your schedule”. The book was published in 1998 so I’m sure the $50 reference may be a touch outdated. But the book has some really great recipes and I imagine if it is still in print, would be a great resource for today’s young entertainers. There are no photographs in this book which makes it more endearing.
Sampson describes the recipe for Swordfish Au Poivre as a cross between the eponymous steak au poivre, one of my favorites and the classic Sicilian sauce “salmoriglio” made with olive oil, lemon juice and oregano. I agree. Finely grated lemon zest is mixed with cracked black pepper, finely minced garlic, dried oregano and salt. The spice mix coats 2 pounds of swordfish and is sauteed in some olive oil in a cast iron skillet.
In my interpretation, one side of fresh scallops are coated in the mixture and pan fried in olive oil. I’ve paired the scallops with a festive combination of broccoli and cauliflower “rice” that is sauteed with some onion, salt and pepper and then finished with a handful of chopped fresh basil and some toasted pine nuts for texture. The mixture serves as a bed for the cooked scallops and the entire dish is dusted with some cracked pink peppercorns, inspired by a few of the dishes I enjoyed in Croatia. Fresh lemon wedges provide a welcome burst of citrus to offset the heat of the spice mixture.
I hope you enjoy it. I wrote up the recipe as best I could and hope proportions are good for you. I made about half of the recipe as written and it served my husband and me with a little leftover. I think you could get 5-6 average servings using the recipe as written. Feel free to add other elements to the rice as you see fit. It’s a very flexible preparation.
If you do make it, please come back and leave a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Other ideas for Father’s Day cooking!
Jumbo Shrimp with Lemon & Garlic (my Father’s recipe)
Seared Scallops with Corn & Bacon
See you next week!
These scallops have notes of spice, citrus and herbs. Simple and yet elegant at the same time, paired with the broccoli-cauliflower rice they make an easy weeknight dinner or a dish you can serve to company. You could also serve it as a first course of a larger dinner. As for the broccoli-cauliflower rice, I used two 16 ounce packages I found at the supermarket which is roughly about 7 1/2 cups. You can easily make your own rice at home using fresh broccoli and cauliflower that you pulverize in a food processor.
- 1 1/2 pounds scallops
- 3-4 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
- 1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced (a fine mince is important as you don't want chunks that will burn)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (use Herbes de Provence in a pinch)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 Tablespoons ghee or butter
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2, 16 ounce packages broccoli & cauliflower rice
- 2 handfuls of freshly chopped basil
- 2 handfuls of toasted pine nuts
- salt and pepper to taste
- Crushed pink peppercorns for garnish, optional
- Lemon wedges
- Pat the scallops dry using paper towels.
- Mix together all the ingredients for the spice mixture and put into a wide shallow dish.
- Dip one flat side of each scallop into the spice mixture and set aside.
- In a large, 12-inch saute pan, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until it just starts to wilt. You don't want it to brown. Add the broccoli-cauliflower rice and sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Saute the rice to coat it with the ghee and then leave it for a bit so that it starts to brown slightly and cook. Stir again. Repeat this process, stirring and leaving it be for about 5-6 minutes until the rice has softened to your liking. You want it to still have just a little bit of bite. Add the basil and pine nuts and stir. Correct for seasoning with salt and pepper.
- While the rice is cooking, warm the olive oil in a large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallops, spice mixture side down and sear for 2 minutes until a nice crust forms. Flip the scallops and cook an additional 2 minutes. If you don't have a large enough pan, you may have to do this in 2 batches using 2 Tablespoons of the oil for each batch. Keep first batch warm on a plate covered with some foil.
- Serve scallops over rice, garnished with some cracked pink peppercorns (optional) and fresh lemon wedges (a must).
I made this last night, and it was delicious! Very quick and easy to prepare too! Thanks Kitchen Scout!!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Betsy!