|Cumin Crusted Scallops over Spicy Lentils|
|Right Food for the Season - Late Winter|
|Written by R. Patrick Kent|
Living in the New England area, seafood is one of our most amazing local treats. There's nothing better than getting your hands on local, in-season, fresh off the boat fare. A favorite of mine is the sea scallop. Scallops are sweet and whisper quiet in their flavor, yet they pair very well with so many flavors. The subtlety of the sea scallop is most forgiving and can carry light, citrus and coconut flavors as well as darker, richer flavors found in mushrooms and duck fat. Unlike bay scallops, Atlantic Sea Scallop population levels have been rebuilt over the last decade and are now very high. In fact, the Fish Stock Sustainability Index for Atlantic Sea Scallops, as measured by the National Marine Fisheries Service, is at the highest rating of 4*. They are sustainable, versatile, and best of all, available year round.
The good people of Globe Fish had the most amazing fresh scallops available at the last Wayland Winter Farmers' Market a week ago. While I was there, I picked up some baby spinach grown at Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA. I figured I'd come up with something to do with them when I got home. Bacon is a staple in my kitchen so I was thinking "scallops and bacon" - always a great combo. The scallops were so fresh I almost wanted to do a ceviche, but by my estimation, the weather wasn't quite there yet. In the late winter/early spring I'm still craving smoky, dense flavors. My mind took a spin around the possibilties: scallops and bacon, bacon and lentils, lentils and cumin...A dish started to come together. The dish, detailed below, was hugely rewarding in that it was the result of farmers' market inspiration, a little creativity, and a well-stocked pantry. A powerful triad that is central to our thinking here at Local In Season.
Cumin Crusted Scallops over Spicy Lentils
1 lb medium-sized Sea Scallops
Season sea scallops with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cumin over one side of scallops.
Cook lentils in 4 - 6 cups of water for about 15 - 20 minutes (depending on how firm or tender you like them)
Cook bacon over medium-high heat in a large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, leaving grease, set aside.
Add the unsalted butter to the skillet and let melt into bacon fat. Sear the sea scallops cumin side down in the skillet for 2 minutes, turn over and cook another minute. Remove the sea scallops from the pan and set aside. Add spinach and shallot to the pan and cook until spinach is wilted. Add crushed or diced garlic and cook for another minute. Add a pinch of cayenne.
Drain the lentils and add them to the spinach, stirring around until mixed. Stir in 1 tsp of dijon mustard and 1 tsp of white wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Crumble the cooked bacon and mix it in with the lentils and spinach.
Serve the scallops on a bed of the lentils and spinach.
*FSSI as reported at http://seafoodforthefuture.org/recommendations/atlantic-sea-scallops/