Friday, July 20, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: Shrimp, Scallops, and Shrimp-and-Scallops

I like fish well enough, but given a choice between fish and other seafood, the "other" will usually win. When it comes to cooking that "other" seafood, shrimp and scallops are both pretty non-intimidating to cook and serve, as opposed to, let's say, lobsters or crab that have those tough shells you have to deal with.

Scallops come ready-to-cook, and if you're really time-challenged, you can buy your shrimp cleaned, cooked, and shells removed.

And like most other seafood, shrimp and scallops cook quickly. You can have dinner on the table in very little time, unlike that roast that needs to cook for a long, long time.

Scallops and Corn

This dish would make a lovely appetizer or it can be a full meal - the difference is portion size. If you want to serve it as an appetizer but want the scallop portion to look more generous, slice the scallop in half, horizontally. Present it with the seared side up.

The only minor detail you might need to take care of before cooking the scallops is to remove the tough bit that might still be attached.

You'll see it - it's a separate bit and it's usually a slightly different color. That piece is edible, but it's chewy. Remove it and discard it. Or, if you like to make stock from leftover bits, you can those bits to the seafood stockpile.

The avocado for the corn salad can be a little firmer than what would be ideal for guacamole - you want the pieces to hold their shape rather than immediately collapse. You still want a ripe avocado - there's not much worse than a chewy, rubbery unripe one.

Seared Scallops on Corn Salad

Kernels from 2 ears corn
1 medium or large tomato
1 avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
Pinch of salt
Several grinds of black pepper
6 large sea scallops

Place the corn kernels in a medium bowl. Dice the tomato, and add it to the corn.

Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit. Cut a crosshatch pattern in the avocado flesh all the way to the skin, but not going through it. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado flesh. It will break up into pieces.

Add the lime juice, salt, and pepper. Stir gently to combine, trying not to mash the avocado.

Refrigerate until needed. The lime juice will help keep the avocado from browning too quickly, but you don't want to make this too far in advance. If you prefer, you can make this while you're cooking the scallops.

Heat a pan on high heat with just a touch of oil. Pat the scallops dry and add them to the pan. Cook until well-browned on one side, then flip and cook on the second side.

The scallops should be cooked through in the time it takes to sear both sides, and they should be opaque all the way through - you don't want to overcook, or they well get tough and rubbery.

Serve the seared scallops on top of the corn salad.

Shrimp Meets Artichoke

I love artichoke hearts, particularly when they're marinated and they've got that slightly acidic pickled flavor. But marinated artichokes usually come packed in oil. Probably healthy olive oil, but still, that's a lot of oil coating those artichokes.

Not long ago, I wrote about a cookbook recipe for making marinated artichoke hearts. They weren't really like the ones you'll find in jars - these were cooked with a bit of olive oil and lemon, but the resulting product wasn't swimming in olive oil.

Since then, I've made a few different versions of those artichokes. Variations piled on top of variations until the recipe is only vaguely related to the cookbook recipe, Like, there are artichokes that get cooked in olive oil, and there's lemon.

Lately, I've been eating artichoke hearts as a hot vegetable and a cold salad. I mean, without all that oil the hearts are much more versatile. Instead of being treated like a pickle that you eat just a little bit of, they become a serving of vegetables.

This time, I paired the artichoke hearts with roasted red peppers and shrimp. It makes a pretty plate, and it can be made well in advance. You can serve the artichokes warm or cold. For that matter, you can serve the shrimp warm or cold.

Just like the scallop dish, this could be a small appetizer, a salad, or a main dish, depending on how you portion it.

Shrimp and Artichokes

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cans artichoke hearts, drained
1 red pepper, fire roasted and cleaned (or the equivalent, jarred)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 pound shrimp, cleaned, cooked, and shells removed

Heat the olive oil on medium heat. Depending on what size artichoke hearts you bought, quarter or halve them. Put the artichoke heart in the pan and cook until the hearts brown slightly. Add the peppers, lemon juice, and oregano, and cook another minute or two.

You can serve these warm, or refrigerate them until chilled.

Arrange the artichokes, peppers, and shrimp on a plate to serve. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil or squeeze  on some extra lemon juice, if desired.

The artichokes also make a great chilled side dish, even without the shrimp.

Shrimp and Scallops and Pasta, oh my!

And now, how about a heartier dish with shrimp and scallops? This is a great dinner, but it's still a relatively light dish. A smaller portion would make a nice lunch.

I used both shrimp and scallops, but this dish would be fine with just one. Or, if you have crab or clams, or lobster, those would be great additions, as well.

This is a great use for cooked, leftover seafood, or you can cook some specifically for this dish. The seafood is folded into the pasta at the last minute, so it won't overcook.

Shrimp and Scallops with Linguine

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1 pound baby portobella mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
6 large scallops, seared and cooked through
6 medium shrimp, cooked
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound linguine, cooked

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan until the butter melts. Add the onion  and thyme and cook on medium until the onions soften.

Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms lose their water, and continue cooking until the water evaporates and the mushrooms begin frying in the oil left in the pan. Add the shrimp, scallops and cooked linguine, along with some of the pasta cooking water.

Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook just long enough to warm the pasta

Serve warm.