Mark Bittman has saved me twice this week.
I love that about him. He has the ability to make everything better when I am exhausted and at a complete loss as to what to do for dinner. I can bring home any ingredient and if I am uninspired or unmoved, I can turn to Bittman and he will illuminate a path.
On Tuesday, while Fe. napped at my parent's house, I raced over to Santa Monica Seafood to find something piscine for dinner. I came away with plump, glistening sea scallops.
It seems like everyone I know had scallops for Valentine's Day. Not us. We supped on tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. A's choice all the way. We tend to do things a bit backwards. So scallops on a run-of-the-mill Tuesday, instead!
And why not? They take no time to cook, which makes them a perfect weeknight dinner... Except that they're not cheap. So maybe they're a splurgy weeknight dinner, but definitely something to keep in mind.
It turns out that you don't always have to make a fancy pan sauce or super rich beurre-blanc to showcase sea scallops properly.
Mark Bittman, in his always handy, How to Cook Everything, turned me on to something entirely new. Granted, this may not be new to all of you, but for me it was verging on revelatory.
You can roast scallops!
Okay, so maybe it isn't headline news, but it definitely is good news.
Bittman's roasted sea scallops have a bit of a mediterranean slant thanks to the tomato, onion, parsley, and olive oil. The onion brings additional sweetness to the scallop's own. The tomatoes add tang and zip, and the paprika lends warm depth. You don't have to strew the suggested breadcrumbs over the top, but I really liked the bit of crisp.
These scallops are not only snip-snap and tasty, they're rather healthy. That is as long as you don't use too heavy of a hand during the final drizzle of olive oil.
I had almost all the ingredients on hand. You probably do too!
I did not have a medium tomato in the house, so I used halved cherry tomatoes. While the dish will be a bit soupier if you use canned tomatoes, the flavors should be just as satisfying. I wouldn't hesitate to turn to San Marzano for help here.
My stash of homemade bread crumbs in the freezer had been depleted, but I did have half a baguette patiently waiting for a new life. I tore it into chunks and whizzed it in the food processor. Bread crumbs in two minutes. If possible, always make your own.
All in, this shouldn't take you more than thirty minutes. The vegetables and parsley get a chop-chop and are tossed in the baking dish with the olive oil and paprika. They're thrown in the oven for about ten minutes until the juices are flowing and bubbling. The scallops are nestled into the mix and the bread crumbs sprinkled over. The extra-virgin olive oil is drizzled and in ten more minutes, dinner should be ready.
The only addition I'd make is to serve this with lemon or perhaps add a wee bit of preserved lemon rind to the tomato mixture. I know. I know. Enough already.
Mark Bittman's Roasted Sea Scallops
1 medium tomato, peeled if you have time, cored and roughly chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves, plus parsley for garnish
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil,plus more for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh (optional)
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.
Combine the tomato, onion, parsle, paprika, oil, and some salt and pepper in a baking dish that will just hold the scallops in one layer.
Bake until the juices begin to bubble and flow, approximately 10 minutes. Tuck the scallops into the vegetables, and sprinkle the bread crumbs over. drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the scallops are just opaque about halfway through, approximately 10 minutes. Serve with the tomato mixture along side.