barefoot-style scallops

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Sometime back in July, I made scallops. The most succulent, sweet scallops I’ve ever tasted. And I bought them from some guy in a truck on the side of the road. That may sound a little risky to city dwellers, but to us suburbanites in CT, we know that the best seafood and fish come from the seafood truck guy. He only stops in a few nearby towns for three or four days out of the week. The rest of the week, he’s in Maine catching the goodies.

If you are like me, cooking fish and seafood can be a little intimidating. This is a great dish to practice your skills; the prep is simple, the cooking even easier, and the results are delicious. Click here for some how-to videos on cooking seafood that are helpful for anyone who needs some tips.

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As you can see by the serving size, we were hungry. There are two elements that make this recipe a keeper: the freshness of the scallops and the prosciutto di Parma. If your grocery store does not have the “di Parma” type of prosciutto, then use the other. And if you cannot find prosciutto, you could substitute pancetta (Italian bacon) or bacon. Each of these will lend a different flavor, with the prosciutto di Parma adding the most delicate salty and sweet taste. (To find out more about prosciutto, click here.)

Scallop Gratin Over Spinach

Adapted from my much-loved birthday present: Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced (I used a little less)
  • 2 medium shallots, minced
  • 2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
  • 4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod (I did not use this)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used half this amount)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 1/2–2 pounds fresh bay scallops (I used sea scallops)
  • about 6 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • Lemon, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (you can also use a hand mixer). With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, Pernod, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil slowly as though making mayonnaise, until combined. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.
  3. Place the wine in the bottom of an oven-proof dish.
  4. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle and membrane from the side of each scallop and discard. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and place in the dish.
  5. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. (If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned.)
  7. Place the spinach leaves on three or four plates (depending on how hungry you are!). Spoon hot scallops over the spinach. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately.
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