Fine Cooking (October/November 2014)
Just last week, we found ourselves in a bit of a clean-out-the-fridge moment. We'd bought some tilapia fillets to cook for dinner, and we threw open the refrigerator to gain some inspiration from what we had on hand.
Our eyes settled on a mostly-eaten bag of red grapes. Huh, we thought. Grapes. With fish. That's a thing, right? We could do that, couldn't we?
We did. We threw a little olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary on the fish and grapes, and roasted them in the oven for 20 minutes or so. It turned out to be very tasty, and it was a terrific way to make use of some grapes that were about to be past their prime.
So we were excited -- and a little bit gratified -- when, just a few days later, we spied these Seared Scallops with Grape-Mint Relish in the latest Fine Cooking.
Related note: If you're more of a kitchen beginner who's just getting started cooking recipes, reach for the scallops! They're so impressive on the plate, they taste great, and it's almost impossible to mess them up.
The only slightly involved part of this recipe (emphasis on "slightly") is the grape-mint relish, which you simmer in fresh orange juice to create a thicker, syrupy topping for the scallops. That probably takes 30 minutes, all told. The scallops themselves couldn't be easier -- cook in the butter and oil for 5 minutes, flipping them once halfway through. Done!
The flavors here are really excellent. The fatty, buttery flavor of the scallops is a great counterpoint to the bright, citrusy, minty relish. And the grapes bring out the scallops' natural sweetness.
The next time we've got some grapes burning a hole in our fridge, we won't think twice about pairing them with seafood. And in the meantime, we'll remind ourselves to eat more scallops.
1 cup fresh orange juice (from 3 large)
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tbs. finely chopped shallot
2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups halved or quartered seedless grapes, preferably green
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
20 large dry-packed sea scallops (about 1-1/2 lb.), side muscles removed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. unsalted butter
Bring the orange juice, ginger, shallot, and garlic to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the grapes, mint, and 1/2 tsp. salt; set aside.
Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat 1/2 Tbs. of the oil and 1/2 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides. Add half of the scallops and cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides but still translucent in the center, 4 to 5 minutes total. Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent with foil. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining oil, butter, and scallops.
Serve the scallops with the relish.