I’m home, back to blogging after a really relaxing week at a cabin with friends. We sat around a roaring fire, played games, read, took walks, and ate. Oh boy, did we eat.
…waffles with bacon, french toast with sausage, nutella-filled crepes.
Also, that little holiday known as Thanksgiving fell smack in the middle. Pies, turkey with gravy, maple-glazed yams, sage stuffing, potato casserole.
It was a week of delicious eating in a beautiful setting with good company.
There’s only one problem. Matt’s birthday happened to be on our first day back home and the only way I know to celebrate and show people I care is with food. Normally, we’d go out or I’d cook an elaborate meal and spring for something manly like a big steak or rack of lamb.
Not an option this year.
So what was I to make, coming off this week of gluttonous eating?
Something light and fresh but still a little festive feeling. How about seafood? Good. Definitely a raw vegetable component. Neither of us can get enough shaved fennel these days. Citrus? Why not? A little mint? Sure. A handful of pistachios? Yes.
Okay, I think I’ve formed a plan. We’re going to make a fancy entree salad. Shaved fennel, Bibb lettuce, seared calamari, a couple gorgeous sea scallops. Orange, pistachio, and mint gremolata to tie it together.
Chop the nuts, zest the orange, mince the mint and parsley. Toss it with a touch of lemon juice and a splash of olive oil. Your super fresh-tasting gremolata is done. Shave the fennel, wash the lettuce, pat the squid and scallops dry. Almost there.
Seafood gets a quick sear. Calamari tubes first- then cut them into rings while scallops are in the hot seat.
Plate it up. Bibb lettuce base, calamari rings tossed with the shaved fennel, seared scallops as the star. Top it with the gremolata and there you go. Birthday dinner for a recovering meat-aholic.
- 4 large (U10) Sea Scallops, patted dry
- 4 Calamari Tubes, cleaned and patted dry
- 4 leaves Bibb (Butterhead) Lettuce, rinsed and dried well
- ½ large Fennel Bulb, shaved on a mandoline or very thinly sliced
- ¼ c. Unsalted Pistachios, shelled and chopped
- 2 Tbsp. Mint, minced, divided
- 1 Tbsp. Italian Parsley, minced
- ½ tsp. Sugar
- zest of 1 Orange
- Fresh Lemon Juice
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Red Pepper Flakes
- To make the Orange-Pistachio Gremolata, combine chopped pistachios, 1½ Tbsp. mint, parsley, and orange zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper, lemon juice (about ½ tsp.), and olive oil (about 1 Tbsp.). Stir to combine, set aside.
- In a medium bowl, toss shaved fennel with ½ Tbsp. mint, a pinch of red pepper flakes, sugar, lemon juice and olive oil (about ½ Tbsp. each). Set aside.
- Lightly coat a skillet (I used cast iron) with olive oil and place over medium-high heat. Sear calamari tubes on all sides, until they've taken on a little color and are opaque, 3-4 minutes total. Remove from pan, place on cutting board. Heat a little more oil in the pan and sear the scallops, about 2 minutes on each side, 4 minutes total. Once you have set them in the hot pan, do not move them around or you won't achieve a good sear. While the scallops are cooking, slice the calamari tubes crosswise, in ¼ to ½ inch intervals, to create rings. Toss calamari rings with fennel and adjust seasoning if needed.
- To plate, arrange 2 lettuce leaves on each plate. Mound fennel and calamari over the lettuce. Place 2 scallops on top of each salad. Sprinkle with sea salt and spoon gremolata over the top.