Making dinner during the late summer months is one of the best times of year with all of the fresh produce available. I have a minor obsession (read: major) with tomatoes, so I like to put them in almost anything. But, of course, there is also corn, zucchini, and tons of fresh herbs to throw in the mix. With that said, it's fun to take advantage and prepare quick and healthy meals out of them. Like this one.
Instead of going for a traditional pasta salad, I opted for whole-wheat Israeli couscous (often called pearled) because it has a nutty, chewy characteristic that readily absorbs sauces and flavors—one reason that I cooked it in a vegetable broth. Though this is intended as a summer dish, the vegetables can be easily substituted for seasonal variations like roasted pumpkin or winter squash. Similarly, if scallops aren't your thing, feel free to top it with shrimp or chicken.
The whole dish is super simple to prepare and quite addictive. The key is to not overcook the scallops or they will become rubbery and unpleasant. I always stick to a handy method that a Scottish chef, Michael Smith from Three Chimneys, once taught me.
The trick is this: heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) over high heat with your cooking fat of choice, then, when hot, add the scallops, and cook until the bottoms brown and the whitening appearance of being cooked starts creeping up the sides. Flip, then let cook for a minute or two more to brown, and remove from the stove to allow the residual heat from the pan finish cooking it.
I swear that since learning this method, I have not overcooked seafood.
- 1 ¼ cups low-sodium canned or homemade chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup whole wheat Israeli couscous
- 1 ear corn, kernels removed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions, light green and white parts only
- 1 cup Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ jalapeno, thinly sliced
- ½ cup picked cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 6 scallops
Add broth to a 12-inch skillet over high heat and bring to a boil. Add couscous and corn, season to taste with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cover and allow to cook, stirring occasionally, until the excess liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of oil and the lemon juice, cover, and cook for 1 more minute.
Place the couscous in a serving bowl and combine with scallions, tomatoes, jalapeno, and cilantro. Set aside.
Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and then season generously with salt and pepper. In the same skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until barely smoking. Add the scallops and cook without moving until golden brown on first side, 2 to 3 minutes, flip, and cook until barely cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Place on top of the couscous mixture and serve immediately.