Pan Seared Scallops with Polenta
Sometimes the best recipes can come from having to improvise. This is one of those recipes. I had originally planned to make some tamales with pan seared scallops and a mole verde for dinner. Well, we were in the middle of a snow storm and apparently finding some corn husks were a problem. Ugh. I eventually found them – but it had gotten a tad too late to start steaming the tamales.
I had already gotten everything together for the tamales though. The goats milk ricotta and corn were ready to mix into the masa. I had finished off the roasted mole verde and had purchased some scallops. But not really anytime for the steaming. Then on top of that – there was that pesky little snow storm happening outside. I needed to improvise with what I had already made and what I had on hand in the pantry.
The first thing I thought of was making either grits or polenta with everything. Either an Italian or southern spin on the dish. That’s when I remembered one of my favorite little restaurants in Scottsdale called Cowboy Ciao. It was a play on combining the cuisine of the southwest and Italian. I used to get a vegetarian dish with double cooked cooked polenta and sautéd mushrooms. There was my aha moment – I was going to make the double cooked polenta with the goats milk ricotta cheese mixed in and topped with pan seared scallops and the roasted mole verde.
I wouldn’t exactly place this dinner recipe under “an easy weeknight meal”, but I would definitely file it under “really good and a must try one weekend!”
Note about the mole verde: You’ll end up with more than you need for this recipe but it does store for a few days. I used the leftovers on top of both breakfast tacos and grilled chicken tacos.
Note about the goat cheese ricotta: If you don’t want to make it, you can easily replace it with 2 tablespoons of store bought goat cheese.
Special Equipment: Cuisinart Mini-Food Processor
Enjoy and remember to Pin or Save to your meal plan for later!
Pan Seared Scallops with Double Cooked Polenta
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 3 tomatillas
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 lime
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro
- 1 cup of vegetable stock
- Olive oil
- 1/2 cup quick cooking polenta
- 1 cup of milk
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup of goat cheese ricotta or 2 tablespoons of store bought goat cheese
- 1 cup of cooked corn either fresh or from the freezer
- + about either a 1/4 cup of milk or water to help thin out the polenta if it gets too thick.
- 8 sea scallops
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Sprinkle (small sprinkle) of sugar on each side to help with caramelizing
- Pinch of salt on each side
- Turn your broiler on to high heat, Place the tomatillas on a baking sheet and place in the oven, Slightly char the tomatillas and remove.
- For the poblanos: If you have a gas stove top, coat the poblano with some olive oil and char on the stove top. If you do not, turn your broiler on to high and char in the oven. Once charred on all sides, place in a bag for a couple minutes to help steam the skin off the pepper.
- Remove the pepper from the bag and scrape the skin off. Do not run under water as it removes some of the smoke flavor. Remove the seeds and stem too.
- Chop the onion and place in the food processor. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño and place in the food processor. Now place everything else in the food processor except the stock. Blend until smooth. Taste and add a couple pinches of salt. Blend again and taste. Adjust seasonings.
- Place in a sauce pan with the vegetable stock. Turn the burner on low and work on polenta and scallops.
- You are going to need to work on both of these at the same time for timing.
- Start with heating 1 cup of milk and 3/4 cup of water to a boil. Also heat a sauté pan to medium.
- Season the scallops with a pinch of salt and sugar on each side. Add the butter and oil to the pan. Once the butter in melted, add in the scallops. You want to sear them on each side for about 2 minutes for each side and no longer than 3 minutes. You want them opaque in the middle.
- Once the scallops are in the pan, the liquid should be boiling for the polenta. Whisk in the polenta. Once it starts to thicken, add in the the corn, goat cheese, butter and a pinch of salt.
- Pay attention to the scallops.
- If the polenta is starting to get a bit too think, just whisk in some more liquid.
- At this point, everything should be ready to plate. Place the polenta in two bowls and top with the scallops. Then spoon some of the sauce over the scallops and polenta. Finish off with some freshly chopped cilantro.