I never plan very far ahead when it comes to holiday meals, so it's kind of funny that I'm here writing about Valentine's Day. It's not even something Eric and I celebrate. Not in the way that some couples do. There are no chocolates or flowers, gifts or even cards. If we're feeling romantic, we might give the other one a tap on the shoulder and say "Hey, I love you." "Love you too." Done.
We do take the opportunity to cook up something a bit fancier than we'd normally prepare on a normal night and this often means scallops or lobster. There's usually Champagne, because we'll use any excuse to pick up a bottle. And then we sit back and binge on whatever TV show we're obsessed with. That's married life, right there. That's how we roll.
I'm excited to make these seared scallops again in a few weeks, mainly because Eric hasn't tried them yet. Each time I've made them, I've managed to cook and eat the whole plate before he gets home. Sorry, babe. You'll get a taste of these on the 14th. Promise.
Seared Scallops with Quinoa and Apple Salad + Butternut Squash Puree
Yield Serves 4
For the butternut squash puree
1 small butternut squash (about 2 lbs)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
For the quinoa salad
1 cup quinoa
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 ounce lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the seared scallops
1 pound sea scallops
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Trim both ends of the butternut squash and cut it in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Drizzle olive oil over the cut side of both halves and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over them. Place the halves face down (that's the cut side) on the baking sheet and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a sharp knife easily pierces the flesh.
2. While the butternut squash is cooking, prepare the quinoa. Place the quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat, open the lid, and let cool.
3. Transfer the flesh of the butternut squash to a blender (or you can put it in a bowl and use an immersion blender), along with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth.
4. Transfer the quinoa into a bowl, along with chopped apple, parsley. In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa salad and toss to combine.
5. Dry the sea scallops with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
6. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on high heat. Once it begins to smoke, add the scallops and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until it has browned on one side. Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops.
7. To plate, start by spooning 3 tablespoons of butternut squash puree onto the plate (or shallow bowl). Top with a couple spoonfuls of quinoa salad, followed by the seared scallops. Spoon some of the remaining melted butter from the pan on top of the scallops.