I know it's been awhile. Things have been kinda crazy lately and I've been working...a lot. Frankly, I haven't even been thinking about cooking let alone doing it. I've pretty much been living off of smoothies, kale and chard from our garden (we have a ton!) and cookies. Yes cookies. My boss makes some amazing cookies and I'm as good as addicted. Since this has been my diet for the past month I've decided things need to change. I have some new cookbooks and I'm ready to get back in the game. I've also decided that even before this slump in my culinary adventures my meals were getting a bit predictable, so I'm going to be challenging myself to make completely different kinds of foods. Set my sights higher, expand my horizons, cook more meat. I believe I've talked about my issues with meat before. I don't use it very much, so I don't really know what to do with it. I'm great with vegetables, comfortable with grains, fruit's easy, and then there's meat. I sort of just pass by those recipes in cookbooks, when planning dinner it's almost always vegetarian, and these things need to change. It's craziness right? Everyone cooks meat! What's there to be afraid of? It's a mental block I have and I'm bound and determined to change it! I don't want to be laughed out of the kitchen in my cooking classes. So it's on, more meat, more experimentation. And since I'm blogging about this little challenge for myself, I'll have to follow through or else you all will know that I've failed and that I'm a one trick pony, and I just can't let that happen. It definitely won't all be meat from here on out because that's not how I like to eat, but you are going to notice more of it here.
Alright, I'm going to start with scallops. I've never made them before, I've just eaten them and know that they're amazingly delicious. This salad is based on a recipe in Forever Summer by Nigella Lawson. She made a squid salad with lime, cilantro, mint and mizuna. She uses baby squid in this salad, but when we went to the store to get baby squid they said they were out and proceeded to hand us an entire squid. Yeah, the whole thing. I want to be adventurous but that's just too much too soon. After deciding I wasn't ready for this we saw scallop pieces soaking in white wine...yum, and much more user friendly. Already cut and everything! So the squid changed to scallops and I nixed the mizuna because we couldn't find it, and used spinach and dandelion greens instead. I also got rid of the mint, because honestly I'm kind of on the fence when it comes to mint. I really have to be in the mood, which I wasn't, so no mint. Nigella also used peanut oil, but I used sesame oil, because I think it's tastier and healthier.
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 1/2 Tbs fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 jalapeno, seeded
- 1 lime, peeled and halved
- 6 Tbs sesame oil
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup dandelion greens
- 1/2 red onion, sliced very thinly
- 1/2 lb scallop pieces
- 2 Tbs sesame oil for frying
Throw the cilantro, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and jalapeno into a food processor or blender and pulse a few times. Then add the lime and process until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the oil while still processing. Once everything is well mixed and smooth, remove to a bowl and set aside for later.
Toss the spinach, dandelion greens, and onion in a large bowl and set aside until ready to plate.
To saute the scallops, first make sure they are completely dry by pouring them out onto a paper towel and patting them dry with another paper towel or else they will just boil or steam in their juices. I actually didn't do this because I didn't know what I was doing and didn't look up the best way to saute scallops until after I had done it (smart right?) but they still turned out pretty good. Then heat your oil in a saute pan and cook scallops for about 3-5 minutes. You'll know they are done with they are white or opaque. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let them cool just a bit. Then toss with the dressing and serve over the salad greens. Delicious!