When I was little, my mom used to deep-fry tiny bay scallops and serve them with melted butter. One time I ate so many that I made myself sick. It was years before I could try another scallop! These days I like to serve large sea scallops, which are easy to sear and make for a beautiful presentation. What’s more, their rich, sweet taste marries well with so many ingredients that sometimes it’s hard to decide what to serve alongside. Here, I’ve paired them with spinach, bacon, and tomatoes for a quick one-skillet sauté that’s bright and festive. The bacon can be omitted, but let’s face it: everything is better with bacon, and here its rich, salty flavor is a nice foil for the sweet scallops. I recommend a nonstick pan, as the juices sometimes get a little syrupy and sticky.
- 2 strips thick-sliced bacon, preferably applewood-smoked, diced
- ¾ pound sea scallops (dry pack, not treated with preservatives), trimmed of tough opaque muscle
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups cleaned fresh spinach
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, or 1 cup whole currant or grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons vinegar, such as apple cider, sherry wine, or red wine
- 1 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 200°F and place a large serving platter in the oven to warm.
Cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crisp. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
Pour the rendered fat into a small dish and set aside.
Rinse the scallops and pat dry with paper towels. Season them lightly with salt and pepper on one side.
Return the skillet to the stove, over high heat. When it is smoking, pour in the olive oil, then sear the scallops, seasoned side down, for 2-3 minutes, until crusty and light brown. Using a spatula, turn and sear them on the other side for a minute, then remove the scallops from the pan and cover them with foil to keep warm.
Return the skillet to the stove, heat for 1 minute, then add the spinach and garlic and a pinch of salt; stir with tongs or a spatula. When the spinach is wilted, remove it from the pan and pour off the excess liquid.
Add the tomatoes and shallots to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the vinegar and bring to a boil. Whisk in the butter and 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and taste seasoning.
To serve, place the spinach in the middle of the warmed platter. Using tongs, arrange the scallops and tomatoes around the spinach and drizzle with the warm sauce. Garnish with the bacon.
Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.