I was inspired to make this when I was watching Bobby Flay’s grilling show earlier this week. Basically, Bobby was grilling $400 worth of seafood on his untold thousands of dollars worth of grills next to his pool at his house in the Hamptons. If that’s not something to aspire to, I don’t know what is. But before this post gets completely overwhelmed by my jealousy of Bobby Flay, I wanted to make a note of something pretty interesting that he said about summer sauces. Basically, he pointed out that making a simple vinaigrette with an extra seasonal ingredient or two can make an easy, light sauce for seafood or vegetables.
The scallops he was making looked like they’d really hit the spot, so I decided to recreate them and prove once and for all that you’re not better than me, Bobby! What I ended up making was pretty different, though; I didn’t grill my scallops, and I made a puree of fire-roasted peppers as a sauce which I ended up adding to grits. Searing scallops in a heavy skillet is a hassle-free preparation, and fire-roasting peppers is as easy as turning on your stove. I wish I’d had a little cilantro to add to my sauce and use as a garnish, but basil actually ended up being a really nice in the sauce. The only other change I’d make to this dish is to use fancier grits; the Quaker grits I was able to find at Kroger were a little thin for dinner.Overall, though, this dinner was fantastic. In addition to being pretty easy to make, this dish wasn’t very expensive, since the scallops were the only “fancy” ingredient. I’d highly recommend making this for a special occasion or a nice dinner when you want to impress someone with bright green grits.
1/2 cup grits
2 green bell peppers
2 jalapeno peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
- Turn on your stove to medium high. Place your peppers directly over the flame, allowing the skin to char. When the skin blackens and blisters, use tongs to turn the pepper so that it gets blackened on all sides. Let the peppers cool, then rub the skin off under cool running water. The flesh should be soft, so you can pull out the stem, seeds and ribs with your hands.
- Add the cooked peppers to a food processor or blender, then add several basil leaves, the oil and vinegar, mustard, and a dash of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adding more olive oil if necessary.
- Prepare grits according to package. When grits are thickened, add butter, a dash of salt and cream cheese. When the sauce is smooth, stir it into the grits as well, reserving a couple of spoonfuls for dressing the scallops. Melt in the cheddar.
- Lightly sprinkle scallops with salt, pepper and sugar (tip from Bobby). Place a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add canola oil to it. When oil smokes, add scallops to pan and sear them until they get a brown crust, about 3 minutes. Flip scallops and sear the opposite side; as soon as you get a good crust, take scallops off the heat so that they don’t continue to cook. Scallops should be medium-rare to serve.
- Place scallops on a bed of bright green grits and garnish with some herbs – you might as well be at Mesa!