weeknight gourmet

Category : Shellfish

Barefoot Contessa’s Seared Scallops

IMG_1268I have been cooking but, as you may have noticed, I have not been blogging.  At some point in the fall, blogging started to feel like a chore so I pulled back and just cooked without the pressure of having to document it all.  The downside of not blogging is not having a record of all the great recipes I made.  (I REALLY wish I could remember which baked French Toast recipe I made on Christmas morning.)

But I am hoping I will have a lot more time and energy to cook and blog over the coming months since I am now only working part time.

Last night I made this delicious scallop recipe from, my favorite, the Barefoot Contessa.  The scallops were quite simply prepared and served on top of a puree made from Yukon Gold potatoes, leeks, and celery root.  Note that the recipe calls for grapeseed oil.  It has a higher smoke point than the oils you likely have in your pantry which is important when you are searing at a high temperature.  I followed the instructions on how long to cook the scallops and they turned out perfectly.

The potato-celery root puree was super simple but delicious.  It’s a great and lighter alternative to regular mashed potatoes.  I used a combo of milk and heavy cream.

If you like scallops, I definitely recommend this recipe.  And, the puree may become a new side dish staple.

Seared Scallops and Potato-Celery Root Puree
Barefoot Contessa Foolproof, Ina Garten

  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 6 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)
  • 4 cups (1½ pounds) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced into ¾” cubes
  • 4 cups (2 pounds) celery root, peeled and diced into ¾” cubes
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 to 26 large “dry” sea scallops
  • 4 Tbsp. grapeseed oil, divided
  • Basil-infused olive oil, for serving (optional)
  • Minced fresh chives, for serving

Active time: 35 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Serves 6

Melt butter over medium heat in a large (8″ to 10″) saucepan or Dutch oven. Rinse leeks well in a colander, spin dry in a salad spinner, and add to pot. Sauté over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add potatoes, celery root, cream, 4 tsp. salt, and 2 tsp. pepper to the pot, stir, and bring to a boil. Lower heat to very low, cover pot, and simmer gently 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender. Be careful—don’ let the vegetables scorch on the bottom of the pan! In batches, pour mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse until coarsely pureed. Taste for seasonings, return to saucepan, and keep warm over very low heat. If mixture gets too thick, add a little more cream.

If it hasn’t already been removed, peel off the tough strip of muscle on the side of each scallop. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat two 12″ sauté pans over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil to each pan, and when oil is almost smoking hot, add half the scallops to each pan. (If you don’t have two 12″ sauté pans, cook scallops in batches and keep the first batch warm in a 250° oven until second batch is ready.) Cook undisturbed about 3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottoms. Don’t crowd scallops, or they’ll steam rather than sear. Using a small metal spatula, turn scallops and cook on the other side 2 to 3 minutes more, until just barely cooked through. (If the pan is hot enough and you let the scallops cook undisturbed, they will not stick to the pan.)

To serve, spoon warm puree onto 6 plates. Place scallops on puree, drizzle with basil oil (if using), and sprinkle with chives.

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

Here is a quick and easy pasta dish from the Barefoot Contessa.  I just loved the lemon flavor with the roasted shrimp!

I did make a few changes to the recipe though.  Instead of angel hair, I used Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper Pappardelle which added more flavor to the dish.  I added some minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the shrimp before roasting.  Lastly, I know this is a major faux pas in Italian cooking but I mixed in some grated parmesan to the pasta before adding the shrimp.

I’ve never gone wrong with the Barefoot Contessa!  This probably isn’t my all-time favorite Ina Garten recipe but it is solid and great for a weeknight dinner!

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp
Barefoot Contessa

  • 2 pounds (17 to 21 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound angel hair pasta
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the shrimp on a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss well, spread them in 1 layer, and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until they’re pink and cooked through.

Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add the angel hair, and cook al dente, about 3 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Quickly toss the angel hair with the melted butter, 1/4 cup olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and about 1/2 cup of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the shrimp and serve hot.

Mussels in Saffron and White Wine Broth

Keeping with the French bistro theme, I made mussels several weeks ago.  White wine, garlic and mussels….mmm…nothing is more delicious!  I decided to try this recipe because I was intrigued by the addition of saffron and a touch of half and half to a more traditional white wine base.  It was a delicious combo — definitely worthy of some crusty bread for dipping into the broth!

Below are some tips on how to prepare mussels…

  • Mussels must be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed several times before cooking.
  • Wild mussels will need to be scrubbed with a stiff brush to remove any barnacles, sand or grit and their beard must also be removed. This can be done by giving the beard a forceful tug with your fingers and pulling it away or by cutting it off with a small and sharp knife.
  • Rinse the wild mussels several times but do not let them sit in water, as freshwater will kill them.
  • Farmed mussels will have already been prepared for cooking and it will suffice to just give them a quick rinse under a running tap of cold water.

Mussels are super quick and easy to make and are always a crowd pleaser!

Mussels in Saffron & White Wine Broth
The Culinary Institute of America

  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons saffron threads
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded, and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 8 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chives, chopped

Melt the butter in a large pot, then add the garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the wine, half and half, and saffron; simmer for 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, scallions, tomato, and lemon juice, scallions, tomato, and lemon juice; simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the mussels, cover, and stream until they are open, about 5-7 minutes. Shake the pot, holding down the lid with a kitchen towel, to redistribute the mussels. Discard any mussels that do not open. Divide the mussels into eight bowls; distribute the broth equally among the bowls, and top each with fresh chives.