Friday, November 8, 2013

Pan-Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Mash & Spinach

There are few entrées as elegant or simple, as Pan-Seared Scallops. Sweet, succulent and absolutely delicious, the less you fuss with them, the better they taste. My favourite way to cook these plump, meaty scallops is to sear them quickly in a hot pan so that the outside get a lovely crisp, brown crust and the inside stays tender and moist. The crowning glory of this dish is nestling the little darlings on a creamy pillow of low fat Cauliflower Mash and Cooked Spinach, which balanced the richness of the seared scallops perfectly.

Low in carbs and high in nutrients, puréed cauliflower is a delicious substitute for mashed potatoes. I discovered this fabulous guilt-free recipe in the South Beach Diet Cookbook, which is my 'go-to' resource when trying to shed a few unwanted pounds. Wonderfully flavourful in it's own right, Cauliflower Mash is fabulous as a silky smooth purée nestled under pan-seared scallops or any kind of fresh grilled fish or seafood.

Pan-Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Mash & Spinach
Serves 6 as an appetizer or 2 as an entrée

6 sea scallops
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Microgreens and lemon zest, for garnish

Cauliflower Mash:
3 cups cauliflower florets
1 oz butter or Olivina
1 oz whole milk or light cream
pinch of salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

Cooked Spinach:
1 tsp butter
2 bunches fresh spinach, washed and trimmed

Steam the cauliflower until very soft then purée in a food processor. Transfer the mash into a medium saucepan and add the butter and milk to taste. Season with salt and pepper, then cover and keep warm over low heat until needed.

Place the spinach and 1/4 cup of water in a large pot, and cook over medium-high until the leaves wilt, about 3-4 minutes. Drain the spinach in a colander then put back into the pot with some butter to taste. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides, then sear the scallops, turning once, until they are nicely caramelized and cooked to your desired doneness, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm until all of the scallops have been cooked.

To serve, spoon some cauliflower mash into the middle of each plate, top with a nest of spinach then top with the seared scallops. Garnish with a crown of microgreens, some lemon zest and a light drizzle of good quality olive oil.

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