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Published July 21, 2010, 12:00 AM

Halgrimson: Scallops spruce up salads

While I’ve written about eating scallops hot and sauced, the bivalve mollusks are also appropriate for summer salads.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

While I’ve written about eating scallops hot and sauced, the bivalve mollusks are also appropriate for summer salads.

Combined with fresh vegetables such as asparagus, baby lettuces, bell peppers, celery, garlic, onions, parsley, peas, spinach and tomatoes, a delicious combination is formed.

But do not choose strong-tasting vegetables, or the delicate flavor of the scallops will be overwhelmed.

There are three types of scallops – bay from bays, sea from the sea and calico scallops that come from warmer waters and are not seen here. I like sea scallops the best, and they are available frozen all year long. Use them as soon as possibly after defrosting, as they are extremely perishable.

Before I sauté scallops, I might add some minced onion and celery to the oil in the pan and cook until the vegetables are softened before adding the scallops.

Scallops require gentle cooking and must not be overcooked, or they will toughen. When their translucence begins to disappear and they turn opaque, they are done. If they are to be used in a salad, refrigerate immediately in a covered dish while preparing the other salad ingredients.

And don’t forget that lovely weed, purslane, which has begun to show itself in our garden.

The addition of melon or green grapes or orange segments to a scallop salad is appropriate, as is the inclusion of cooked pasta, rice or couscous.

Andrea’s Scallop Salad

2 tablespoons good olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 rib celery with leaves, minced

1 slice ginger root, peeled and minced

1 pound sea scallops

8 spears asparagus, steamed and cut in 1-inch lengths

Chopped tomato and parsley as desired

1 orange, cut in segments

8 ounces shell pasta, cooked

Baby lettuces

Vinaigrette Sauce

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

4 to 6 tablespoons good olive oil

Reserved orange juice and pasta water

Heat olive oil in a pan big enough to hold scallops in a single layer, and add minced onion, celery and ginger root. Cook on medium until vegetables are softened. Add scallops and cook gently until they turn opaque. Remove from pan into a covered container, scraping in the oil and vegetables with a rubber spatula. Refrigerate.

While asparagus steams, chop tomatoes and parsley. Peel orange down to the flesh and section orange removing the papery skin between the segments. Do this over a bowl so the juice can be added to vinaigrette sauce.

Cook pasta in half of the water called for on the box. Drain, reserving a spoonful of pasta water for the vinaigrette and the remainder for the stock pot.

Cut scallops into quarters and combine them with asparagus, tomato, parsley, orange, cooked pasta and vinaigrette sauce. Serve on a bed of baby greens. Makes 4 servings.

Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com