This past Valentine’s Day I was gifted the tastiest, gourmet home-cooked dinner to date. Picture a salad of spicy, quick-pickled cucumber and arugula tossed in a homemade blue cheese dressing, topped with pan-seared scallops in prosciutto pods. Drizzle a spicy basil-walnut aioli across the plate, and dinner is served! Good thing I married a man who knows the only way to my heart is to feed my belly.
Though the acclaimed “day of love” has passed, there’s always an excuse to take the time to make a fancy dinner for your honey. Here’s a recipe to keep in your back pocket:
Pan-Seared Scallop Prosciutto Pods and Arugula Salad
Total Time: 90 minutes
Spicy Basil-Walnut Aioli
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup basil, finely diced
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 serrano pepper, finely diced (measure to desired spiciness)
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 cups arugula
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Thai chili peppers, thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, spiraled
Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 tbsp truffle oil
splash white wine
fresh ground pepper
8 roughly square-shaped slices of prosciutto (or 4 long slices cut in half)
6 fresh scallops
coarse salt and pepper
1 tbsp butter
1. Preheat oven to 350. Wrap and pat the scallops between paper towels to dry them out as much as possible.
2. Make the aioli. In a food processor or blender, add all aioli ingredients and blend until smooth. Cover and refrigerate.
3. Pickle the cucumber. Combine quick-pickled cucumber ingredients to a large bowl and allow to pickle for 10–15 minutes. Strain cucumber spirals from vinegar and chilis, and set aside.
4. Make blue cheese vinaigrette. Combine the components into a bowl. Smash the blue cheese with a spoon, and whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
5. Combine the salad. In a large bowl, add the pickled cucumber, arugula, toasted walnuts and blue cheese dressing. Toss to combine
6. Prepare the prosciutto pods. Bake all 8 slices of prosciutto for 10 minutes or until toasted and edges curl. Set aside 6 pods. Chop the other 2 into bits, and add to the arugula salad.
7. Make sure the scallops are patted dry as possible. Sprinkle, then press coarse salt and freshly ground pepper on each side of the scallops. Heat a cast iron skillet on medium high, and add grapeseed oil. Just before the oil begins to smoke, add the scallops and allow space around each one. Once the scallops touch the pan, do not move them; this is vital for the perfect sear. After 90 seconds, flip the scallops using tongs. They should have a nice brown crust. Add butter to the center of the skillet, and cook for another 90 seconds, basting the scallops with spoonfuls of the melted butter. This helps with the browning. Remove the scallops, and set aside.
8. On two plates, arrange a rectangular bed of salad. Place 3 prosciutto pods on each bed and a scallop atop each pod. Spread the aioli on each side of the bed, and dinner is served.
9. Pour two glasses of Trump Winery’s 2013 Chardonnay, lush and crispy on the palate, blending bright citrus notes with a subtle creaminess and vanilla on the finish. It’s a delicious and refreshing complement to the myriad of flavor components found in this spectacular dish.