For an elegant meal that comes together in minutes, this is the ideal recipe: intensely delicious and visually stunning with its contrasts of colors and textures. Pan-seared scallops rest on a bed of wilted baby spinach, sauced with a fresh and simple concoction of just 3 ingredients: carrot juice, orange juice and butter.
Inspiration for the sauce comes from our friend Cal Stamenov, Executive Chef at Bernardus Lodge; it's light and brightly flavored, a perfect counterpoint to the richness of the scallops and the austerity of the spinach. (It's also delicious paired with any mild-flavored white fish, such as halibut, sole or snapper.)
fresh carrot juice
fresh orange juice (not from concentrate)
unsalted butter (divided)
1 ½ lb
Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach
1 ½ lb
wild-caught sea scallops (tough side muscles removed, if any)
instant flour (Wondra)
freshly ground pepper
Few gratings of fresh nutmeg
Combine the carrot and orange juices in a small saucepan, and place over medium heat. Reduce to 2/3 cup, occasionally scraping the sides of the pan with a rubber spatula. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Combine 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of water in a very large skillet (preferably nonstick). Place over medium-high heat and add the spinach. If your skillet isn't large enough to hold all of the spinach, add more as it cooks down, or cook the spinach in batches. Cook, stirring frequently, until the spinach wilts. Season lightly with salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Set aside.
Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Combine the flour with salt and pepper on a flat plate or tray. Just before cooking, dip the top and bottom (flat sides) of the scallops in the flour mixture.
Just before serving time and before you cook the scallops, reheat the sauce. When it's hot, remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter is incorporated, whisk in another tablespoon. After adding the 4th and final piece of butter, whisk in 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water. Set the sauce aside (off heat) while you cook the scallops. If you wish, the sauce can be held for one hour in a warm thermos.
Reheat the spinach over medium heat. Meanwhile, place another large skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot but not smoking, add the olive oil and tilt the pan to coat the bottom. Add the scallops in a single layer and cook without turning or moving the scallops until the bottom surface is browned, 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. Carefully turn each scallop (tongs work well) and cook another minute. Remove the pan from the burner.
Divide the spinach among 4 warm plates, arranging the greens in the center of the plate. Arrange some of the scallops on top of each bed of spinach. Ladle or pour some of the carrot citrus sauce around the spinach and serve immediately.
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