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Homecoming Scallops with Orzo and Tomatoes

July 1, 2010

When Alicia came home from Portland, Oregon on Tuesday (perhaps a trip to recover Stephen Colbert, Jr.) and told me about all the great seafood she had been having out in the Pacific Northwest, I knew I had to cook for her a great meal. And, true to form, I chose a seafood recipe I hoped would blow her mind. If I may say, I chose a great recipe and she was very impressed!

Alicia tells me, “Your scallops made me weak in the knees!” And just look at those pictures!

I found the recipe while flipping through the Food & Wine 2005 Annual Cookbook. This particular volume I had found (a real needle in a haystack-type-situation) at the enormous Curtis Library book sale last weekend. But the cookbook is filled with great recipes and tremendous photos. I found this recipe fairly quickly in the book. The picture was great (but ours at Blue Mondays are better!) and oh I am partial to scallops. The tomatoes were so fresh and went with the scallops well.

I deviated from the recipe and also cooked the tomatoes and basil in the same skillet as the scallops, which allowed for the tomatoes to adopt some of the delicious caramelization of the scallops. The original recipe also called for a complicated (and unnecessary) ginger and lemongrass addition, which I deemed distracting and overly complicated. Also I don’t own the processor it called for. This recipe was simple, fresh, and perfect for the summer. Alicia felt so welcomed, and I was happy to serve her a meal we both enjoyed thoroughly. I chose a nice Sauvignon Blanc to go with the dish. Enjoy!

Scallops with Orzo and Tomatoes

adapted from Food & Wine, serves 4

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/4 pounds chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil (I bought fresh basil, currently planted near my windowsill)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
  1. In a saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the orzo, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the scallops, season with salt and pepper and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom. Turn over and cook for 1 minute longer before removing the scallops.
  3. Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet until shimmering, Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat, stirring, for 1 minute. The tomatoes will adopt some of the caramelization flavor from the scallops. Add 2 tablespoons of the basil and some juice from the lemon and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mound the orzo in shallow bowls and top with the tomatoes and scallops. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of basil and serve.
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