Seared Scallops with Zucchini “Pasta” and Roasted Beet Salad
Last summer, spent at our Maine house, was a balancing act when it came to dinner, which we rotated among friends and took turns hosting. I had just begun the Good Mother Diet, my husband was protein heavy and mostly carb free and our friend, Rick went back to our ancestral roots with the Paleo diet. Well here is a meal that satisfies all three! The pasta is not real pasta, but noodles made by slicing zucchini into long, skinny spaghetti-like ribbons. For this a mandolin works best, however, you can also use a grater, zester or potato peeler but it won’t look as nice. If you want it to look even more like spaghetti, you can peel the zucchini before cutting it but I prefer to keep the skins (and vitamins) in the dish.
This is my favorite way to prepare beets. Roasting, rather than boiling, intensifies the color and flavor, plus it is by far the easiest way to remove the skin. Using varieties with different colors makes for a prettier dish. If making the entire meal, start by roasting the beets since that can take a half hour or so, depending on the size of your beets and get the zucchini ‘pasta’ going. The beets can be made ahead of time and will last in the refrigerator several days. The actual cooking time of everything else is pretty short and should be done just before serving. Paleos, like Rick, should omit the pistachios, cheese and seasoning/salt.
Roasted Beet Salad
1-2 Tbsn olive oil
1 head butter lettuce (washed and separated)
Vinaigrette ( ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 1 Tbsn Dijon Mustard, salt and pepper)
- Cut leafy stalks off the beets, taking care not to cut into the flesh. (You want to keep all the juice inside). Reserve leaves for another use or chop them and saute in olive or butter with garlic and serve on the side.
- Wash and dry beets but don’t peel them. (The peel will slide off easily after they are roasted). Lay them on a large piece of aluminum foil. Brush them with olive oil and fold the foil up and seal into a leak-proof package, or you can use a covered baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Larger beets can take up to an hour, so check often. Be careful when you open the pouches, as they will be very steamy and can burn your fingers.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Once they are cool enough to handle, slip the skins off by hand or with a papertowel. (You will be surprised how easy it is).
- Slice and serve with lettuce and sliced apple. Drizzle with vinaigrette and top with feta, if desired.
Seared Sea Scallops and Zucchini “Pasta”
1 lb large sea scallops
2 Tbsn avocado oil (or another oil that does well in high heat)
1/2 tsp creole seasoning (like Tony Chachere’s) or just salt and pepper
¼ cup white wine
4 – 6 zucchini (depending on size)
1 Tbsn olive oil plus 1 Tbsn butter (or all olive oil)
¼ cup shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (Optional)
2 oz parmesan, grated or thinly sliced Optional)
- Using a mandolin, cut the unpeeled zucchini into thin pasta sized ribbons. (A grater or potato peeler will work as well). Place the ‘pasta’ strands on a papertowel and sprinkle with salt. . Cover
with a papertowel and press down gently. Let them ‘sweat’ for about 30 minutes to remove the extra moisture.
- Toast the chopped pistachios in a small, dry pan on medium heat for a few minutes (until you can smell them cooking). Let cool.
- Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and add ‘pasta’ and pistachios. Toss gently. Top with parmesan if desired..
- Wash and dry scallops. Put them in a bowl with the oil and seasoning. Gently mix until scallops are coated. The oil should not pool in the bottom of the bowl. Pour off excess oil that doesn’t mix back in. The scallops won’t sear if there is too much moisture or oil.
- Heat a cast iron, or other skillet, on medium high to high heat. The pan should be very hot. Cook scallops in a single layer, without crowding. You may have to cook them in two batches. Cook for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side 2 minutes.
- Remove scallops from the pan. Add wine to the hot pan and stir to deglaze and reduce the liquid to make a sauce. If you overcook and too much liquid goes away, just add a bit of water.
- To serve, place ¼ of the ‘pasta’ mixture on each plate. Top with ¼ of the scallops. Drizzle with wine sauce.