Friday, January 28, 2011

Citrus Seared Scallops & Polenta

I absolutely love when I have a whole day free and get to spend time cooking. Usually I breakout the back issues of Cooking Light that I haven't gotten to, or my computer and browse around to find recipes while I'm on the couch drinking coffee. Then I finalize my grocery list and hit Henry's. I really love browsing the aisles when I'm not in a rush and usually end up buying way too much stuff! Once I get it all home I like cooking while watching cooking shows on TV. This was exactly the process that went into making these scallops for dinner last weekend.

I had heard of polenta before, but never tired it until Kevin and I went out for my birthday to a restaurant here in San Diego called Osetra for my birthday last fall. I had the scallops, which came pan seared over polenta with chunks of lobster and caviar in a pomegranate reduction. (side note: I could read the previous sentence over and over and over because it sounds so damn good) I was in the mood for a cooking adventure so I tried to a spin on that dish. I knew I could make scallops no problem but I had never made polenta. Somehow I had this misconception that it was hard to make. It was actually really easy once I figured out what was going on. The hardest part was finding out what exactly polenta was. All the recipes that I read called for polenta as an ingredient but low and behold when I went to the store polenta was nowhere to be found. (Except for those premade logs of it... which are a little scary to me) This just didn't seem right. Henry's has a huge selection of bulk dry goods, how could there not be polenta? Turns out its because polenta is just corn meal. According to that article I should be fine just using cornmeal, so that's what I ended up buying.

Basic Polenta
adapted from Gourmet via
yield: 4-5 servings

1 cup dry polenta/cornmeal
2 cups water
2 cups chicken stock

In a saucepan bring water and chicken stock to a boil. Add cornmeal in a slow stream stirring constantly. Lower heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Once polenta has thickened add any desired herbs, butter, parmesean cheese etc and serve immediately.

The other option is to pour the polenta into a cake pan or jelly roll sheet and to refrigerate. The polenta will set up and can then be cut into shapes. You can then grill, bake, fry or reheat however your like. This makes a great side dish and basically if you like cornbread- you'll like polenta. I added some Italian seasoning, garlic, and a little red pepper, but there are a million variations online for different flavors. I'm excited to try to make the firm polenta ahead of time and then bake or grill it.  

Nutrition Information: Calories 115, Fat 1.4g, Carbohydrates 23.8g, Fiber 2.2g, Sodium 393 mg, Protein 2.8g

Scallops are pretty much my favorite thing ever. They are incredibly easy to make, taste amazing and can be whipped up in less then 20 minutes but are nice enough to serve for a "fancy" dinner.

I marinated the scallops in a mix of fresh grapefruit and lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil for about 10 minutes and then seared them for about 2 minutes each side. While cooking the scallops I poured the leftover marinade into a small pan and cooked over medium until it got syrupy. I poured the syrup over the scallops when serving and garnished with a few chunks of grapefruit. You could use any citrus to make this. I liked the grapefruit but it was a little tangy so I ended up adding about a teaspoon to sugar to the syrup. Next time i'll probably try it with orange, or maybe lemon and lime. If you've never seared scallops before this is a nice step by step guide on exactly how to do it.

If you're still on your new years diet (I'm still being good!) large scallops that are about 1.5 inches accross have about 35 calories a piece before you cook them. Typically 4 or 5 scallops is a good portion for one person.


  1. polenta = lots of stirring. Most Americans are too lazy for it!

  2. Christie- I like the addition of the nutrition information for your dishes. I also have a source that says that since since microwaves surge in power that they are great for making polenta. Never tried it though.