Main Dishes, Recipes, Seafood

Forcing Spring’s Hand

Cook Spring even if the weather doesn't agree!
Cook Spring even if the weather doesn’t agree!

Last Wednesday was the first day of Spring. Here in Brooklyn, unless you double checked the calendar, you’d never know. I swear in the past few days it’s actually gotten colder. During a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday, I saw one farmer selling buckets of tulips and it gave me hope. At least Spring has arrived somewhere! That was until I actually read the sign: “Greenhouse grown”. Not that there’s anything wrong with greenhouses, but I was kind of looking forward to finding something that actually grew in the ground.

Farmers must love me in the spring. It’s the easiest time for them to take my money. It’s hard being a locavore in the Northeast. It’s not like California where you can find warm weather produce most times of the year. We have to wait. And late December through March is absolutely killer. Last year, with the almost nonexistent winter, spring came early and plants were budding around now. This year, we’re not so lucky. I wonder if Spring will ever come. But living off root vegetables, grains and beans and frozen veggies that could never compare to their original in season for is rough. So when Spring produce hits the markets I’m there, waving bills in hand. I don’t care if the first picked asparagus costs $6 a bunch, and would only be $4 a bunch if I waited a week. I want it NOW. I shell out big bucks for the first pint of strawberries I see and sometimes they don’t even make it all the way home to share with my husband. It doesn’t matter that they’ll be half the price a few weeks later.

Perfect Scallops deserve a perfect pairing: Lenz 2008 Old Vines Chardonnay
Perfect Scallops deserve a perfect pairing: Lenz 2008 Old Vines Chardonnay

So my purchases this week included any indication of Spring I could get my hands on. Baby spinach from Rogowski Farm, Frisee from Lancaster, PA and scallops from Blue Moon Fish. Yes, I know scallops are easy to find most times of the year, but fish is lighter and makes me think spring. I decided I would force Spring’s hand. Spring may not be ready to show its face, but I need it now. If I start cooking spring now, perhaps I can woo it out of its long hibernation. Last night I pulled out all the stops. I scoured the greenmarket, coop and pantry for any spring foods I could get my hands on, or preserved versions from last spring. Frisee with warm mushroom bacon vinegrette (subbed mixed greens for frisee and skipped the beer), topped with a poached egg.  Seared sea scallops dotted with garlic scape pesto served with sautéed summer squash. If I cook spring, it will come. And after checking the weather this morning, what do you know? Looks like we might break 50°F next weekend. I WIN.

Frisee with warm mushroom bacon vinaigrette
Frisee with warm mushroom bacon vinaigrette

Perfect Seared Scallops (Serves 2)

  • 8 sea scallops
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pesto sauce (homemade preferred)

Rinse scallops well to remove any residual sand and pat dry. You want the scallops as dry as possible; any moisture can interfere with searing. Season top and bottom generously with salt and pepper.

Seared Scallops (1)

In a medium skillet melt butter and oil over high heat until smoking. (that’s right, smoking. Scallops need to sear on very high heat so open your windows, turn on your fan or unplug the smoke detector, whatever you need to do). Place scallops in the skillet, being careful not to crowd.

Seared Scallops (3)

Now here’s the hard part–DON’T TOUCH THEM. Let them sear for 2-3 minutes, until you can see them browning on the bottom. Be patient, because if you disturb the scallops too early, you can break the caramelization that’s starting to form. After you’ve patiently waited your 2-3 minutes, flip scallops and continue searing other side for another 1-2 minutes.

Be patient and be rewarded
Be patient and be rewarded

Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and distribute 4 scallops on each plate. Drizzle or dot with pesto. Serve immediately.

 

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