Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pan-Seared Scallops with Mashed Cauliflower

The other day, I received an email from a friend of my mother's requesting a recipe for scallops. The meal that I came up with might possibly have been one of the quickest, most simple dishes I've ever made.

Don't get me wrong. I love braising things, cooking things low and slow in my borrowed Dutch oven, roasting things in the oven. But on a weeknight, after a busy day at work, sometimes you just want something quick. Quick and satisfying.

And these scallops are just that. I don't think there's any other way to cook scallops that yields this much flavor. Or that's this easy. The scallops, seared quickly in butter, develop an amazing crust, while the insides remain soft and velvety. The cauliflower mash could not be easier, and with a dollop of dijon, provide a perfect, subtly tangy companion to the sweet, buttery scallops.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Mashed Cauliflower

1/2 pound sea scallops, any tendons removed
one small head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper
one small bunch chives, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add a pat or two of butter (about 1 tablespoon should suffice). When the butter is melted and bubbly, place the scallops in the pan, flat side down. Let the scallops cook and develop a nice brown crust. Season with salt and pepper. After about 2 minutes, flip scallops gently and continue to cook until they have browned on the other side, about 2 more minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add cauliflower and garlic and cook until cauliflower is fork tender. Drain. In a large bowl, mash the cauliflower and garlic with dijon mustard and a pat of butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, topped with a few scallops and some fresh chives.

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