09 January 2007

Scallops Take Two

I am a consumate researcher, call it left-over from my academic days, but I like to know as much as possible about ingredients before I prepare them. I probably single-handedly made 'Google' a verb. Naturally, faced with my bounty of bay scallops, I was quickly shuffling through my cookbooks, searching online, for just the right recipe. Or at least an interesting recipe.

A recipe for scallops with Champagne grapes caught my eye, but I neither had, nor could afford, those little tiny grapes. A scan of my cabinets came up with some Goji berries that my mother had given me over the holidays. Goji berries are dried berries from the Himalayas and their crunchy brown packaging screams trendy health food. I have to admit, the first time I tried them, I pictured the frozen mountains and thought 'this is probably something I would eat if I were some starving mountain climber.' But as I continued to snack on them, I will admit their slightly sweet wild flavor grew on me.

So, peering into my cabinet, I thought why not? And you know what, tossed into a little red wine sauce and accented with the crunch of hazelnuts, the little berries were down right delectable. Not too sweet and just complex enough, the berries proved that taking a little leap of faith is worth it once-in-a-while.

Bay Scallops with Goji Berries and Hazelnuts
Serves 2

about 16-20 bay scallops
2 tbl butter
2 tbl minced shallot
1/2 cup red wine
2/3 cup Goji berries (or Champagne grapes or dried cherries)
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted
2 tbl parsley

- Put the dried berries in a bowl with 1/2 cup warm water to plump.
- Heat 1 tbl of the butter in a saute pan, add the scallops and sear on high heat, only 1-2 minutes. Remove scallops. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan. Add the shallot and saute over medium heat until softened. Deglaze the pan by adding the red wine, scraping up any brown bits. Add the berries and their liquid and the hazelnuts, stirring over medium heat. Return scallops and their juices to the pan, tossing to coat. Divide the mixture between two serving plates, arranging scallops on top. Garnish with parsley, serve.

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