Sea scallops and spinach meet in scrumptious dish

March 08, 1995|By Linda Gassenheimer | Linda Gassenheimer,Knight-Ridder News Service

Fresh sea scallops served on a bed of spinach-flavored couscous make a quick dinner that takes about 20 minutes. Scallops, which need very little cooking, should be prepared so that the inside remains creamy. Prolonged cooking will shrink and toughen them.

The secret to searing the scallops is to make sure your skillet is very hot. The scallops will only need a couple of minutes to cook this way. If your scallops seem very large, check for doneness by slicing into one. If the meat is opaque, they are done; if translucent, cook another 30 seconds.

Here are some other quick tips:

* Frozen leaf spinach can be substituted for prewashed fresh. Be sure to thaw and drain before using for this recipe.

* Scallops should smell sweet, should not be sitting in liquid and should show no browning when purchased.

* Buy good-quality Parmesan cheese and ask the market to grate it for you or chop it in the food processor. Freeze extra for quick use.

Seared Scallops

With Spinach Couscous

Makes 2 servings

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup couscous

1/2 pound fresh scallops

10 ounces fresh, prewashed spinach

4 scallions, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped chives

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Rinse scallops in cool water, drain and set aside. Lightly rinse spinach, spin dry and remove large stems.

Place in large saucepan, cover and cook on low 3 minutes. If using microwave, place in microwave-proof bowl, cover and microwave on high 2 minutes. Remove spinach, place on chopping board and coarsely chop.

Using the same pan, saute scallions and garlic in white wine for 1 minute.

Add mustard and mix well. Fluff couscous with a fork and add to spinach. Add Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet. When it's smoking, add scallops and saute on high 2 minutes, turning after one minute. Add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, place spinach couscous on individual plates and spoon scallops over top. Sprinkle chives over scallops.

Per serving: 476 calories; 35 grams protein; 46 grams carbohydrate; 13 grams fat; 24 percent of calories as fat; 11.1 grams fiber; 47 milligrams cholesterol; 714 milligrams sodium.

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