Seared Scallops with Spinach and White Beans

Ah, Lenten Fridays. We eat meat-free food quite frequently in our home, so eating meatless for a few spring Fridays is not a very difficult task. But for some reason, instead of our favorite meatless meals in the rotation, we use our observation as an excuse to do something cool with seafood. This is what we had last Friday – a truly simple but date-night-caliber meal that I hope we make again soon, both because it was lovely and because it took about ten minutes (if you don’t count the time it took me to snap a photo).

seared scallops

I have always known that scallops cook quickly, but it’s just amazing *how* quickly. Kinda makes it hard to argue that there’s no time to make dinner. I mean, would you rather have sea scallops or a frozen thing in a box you heat up in the oven? Because they take the same amount of time!

I always think of one of my favorite Good Eats episodes when I eat scallops, because it features one of my favorite Good Eats visual aids of all time:

Good Eats Pert Near Raw

the Scallop Chart, of course. My favorite part is the way the center should be “Pert near raw” – and he’s right! These puppies need to be cooked precisely so the center of your scallop isn’t tough. You will notice the progression of doneness in a properly cooked scallop. In the parts of the scallop that are done, you’ll be able to see and feel the existence of the muscle fiber – its separation becomes more pronounced as you cook it. You should not be able to notice the separation of the fiber in the center of the scallop.

So, with that in mind, here’s what you need for a healthy dinner for two:

Olive oil
1/2 red onion, diced
4 cups spinach
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
zest and juice of one lemon
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
10 sea scallops

In a large skillet, heat about 2 tbsp. olive oil on medium and cook the diced red onion until translucent.

spinach in pan

Add the spinach and stir as the spinach wilts. Finally, add the beans and garlic, tossing to combine. Keep on low heat while you cook the scallops.
beans in pan

Pat the scallops with a paper towel to dry the surface a bit, and then season with salt and pepper.

In another 10-12 inch skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on high heat. The fat is hot enough when you can flick a droplet of water from your hand onto the butter/oil mixture and it sizzles.

scallops in pan

Add the scallops and sear for 90 seconds on each side. Plate on top of the beans and spinach and dress with lemon juice and zest, and a little extra black pepper.

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