Pan Seared Bay Scallops and Butternut Quinoa Pilaf

My hankering for sea food has been STRONG since our visit to the city by the bay, so I was super excited to see beautiful Bay Scallops on sale at my grocery for a totally reasonable price, so I snapped up a half a pound (plenty for two people) to have for dinner. 

While in S.F., The Hub sampled my scallops and pronounced them an acceptable food, so I was anxious to take advantage of any seafood he will actually eat!

Regardless of size, scallops often suffer the cruel and toughening fate of being overcooked – so constant monitoring and timely removal from the heat source are important here.

I paired ours with a Quinoa and Butternut Squash Pilaf in homage to the Scallop dish I enjoyed at Plouf that comes with a Butternut Squash and Prosciutto Risotto. The result was a really easy dish with tons of wow factor – worthy of the good napkins and a nice glass of wine, for sure.

First, The Quinoa –

(I would cook the Quinoa (or any other side of your choice) before the scallops, because cooking them goes VERY quickly, and overcooking turns them into rubbery ick!)

What You Need:

1 cup Quiona, rinsed

1 and 1/4 cup water

1 small Butternut Squash, cubed and roasted (frozen is fine here)

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 slices cooked bacon (I used extra lean turkey bacon, because that is what I always keep on hand)

Salt and Pepper

What You Do:

In a medium sauce pan over high heat, add the Quinoa to the boiling water, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes, until the Quinoa has fully expanded.

While that is cooking, blend Butternut Squash and milk together in a food processor or blender until it is a smooth puree.  Taste the puree and add salt and pepper as desired.

Dice the bacon into small bits.

When the Quinoa is done, fluff with a fork and then, over low heat, add the Squash Puree and the frozen peas.  Stir and allow to heat through.

Just before serving sprinkle on and stir in the bacon bits.

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And now, the Scallops –

What You Need:

1/2 lb Bay Scallops

1/2 teaspoon Thyme

1 -2 teaspoons Butter product of your choice (I used “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter Light”)

Canola oil (another light oil would work fine, anything without a strong flavor)

Salt and Pepper

What You Do:

Spread the scallops on to a paper towel in a single layer and dry well.

In a large skillet, melt the Butter-product over medium heat, and then add in enough Canola oil to create a complete layer of butter/oil over entire bottom of the pan.

Season both sides of the scallops with the Thyme and Salt and Pepper (I go easy on the pepper, but that is a personal taste thing – you can always season before serving if you think it needs extra.)

Turn heat to high, and when pan is good and hot (don’t let the oil mixture start to smoke though, lower the heat just a bit if it does) add the scallops, give the pan one good shake to coat them a bit, and then DON’T TOUCH THEM. Let them sear on the side they are resting on for 3 minutes, then turn and cook other side for two minutes. remove from the heat and toss in the pan while using your spatula to scrape and release the bits from the bottom of the pan and combine in the sauce that has formed.

When serving, drizzle a bit of the pan drippings down over the scallops. 

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The two of these together were perfect.  The pan sauce from the scallops and the Butternut Squash flavor in the Quinoa – with little bites of crunchy, salty bacon and the fresh “snap” of the peas made a great combination.  The very picky Hub was a member of the Clean Platers’ club last night!

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