Sunday, October 16, 2011

Seared Scallops over Roasted Mesquite Squash and Garlic Spinach


There's a restaurant I go to from time to time that has the magic formula.

It's not that the chef is wildly inventive or that he uses obscure, exotic ingredients, or that he has a knack for twisting carrots into doves.  No. I like this restaurant because I always come away feeling perfectly satisfied without feeling like a bloated fish.  That's the magic.

The focus of the meals tends to be on quality proteins, delicious, naturally occurring fats and smart carbohydrates (the full range of low glycemic carbohydrates).   I love the use of seasonal squash, pumpkin and beets on the fall menu.  The meals are simple but the use of ingredients is exquisite and bursting with flavour.

This seared scallop dish is typical of the kind of food combination you might find at The Wellington Gastropub.  (If you can figure out how their website works you get bonus marks).

This a straightforward recipe that you can largely assemble ahead of time.  A delicious date night meal!


Seared Scallops over roasted mesquite Squash and Garlic Spinach:
  • 6 scallops
  • 1 small acorn squash, roasted and mashed
  • 1 tsp ground mesquite seeds (mesquite seasoning)
  • 6 cups of spinach
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Sea salt & cracked pepper
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You can prepare the squash and spinach ahead of time if you like, leaving only the scallops and squash seeds to deal with at show time.

Prepare squash for roasting using this method.  Reserve seeds for toasting.  Once squash is cooked, remove it from oven and allow it to cool.  Separate flesh from skin and, using a potato masher or fork, mash the squash (this should be very easy to do if the squash is sufficiently cooked).  Add 1 Tbsp of butter and mesquite seasoning to squash.  Mix and set aside.

For spinach, warm a large skillet on stove over low heat with a touch of olive oil.  Add crushed garlic and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Once garlic becomes fragrant (but not browned, keep at low heat), add spinach.  You can gently increase heat to medium-low as you stir greens.  The wilting process usually only takes about 5 minutes or so.  Set spinach garlic mixture aside once fully wilted.

15 minutes before meal time,  warm squash and spinach on low heat in separate pots on stove. 

Meanwhile in a small, dry pan, toast squash seeds. Add a sprinkle of sea salt and mesquite as desired.

For scallops, I like to use a cast iron skillet to get a good sear.  I use a nice stable fat that can tolerate heat, such as butter or coconut oil, and get the skillet good and hot (but not smoking).  Once the butter has melted and the skillet is nice and hot, add scallops to skillet with a sprinkle of sea salt and cracked pepper.  Allow scallops to sizzle for approximately two minutes before flipping to sear the other side.  Frying time will depend on the size/width of the scallops you are working with. 

When scallops are cooked, begin assembling meal by placing a bed of wilted spinach on each plate, followed by some mesquite squash over top and finally the beautiful seared scallops. Sprinkle with toasted squash seeds.

Enjoy!

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Two other scallop recipes I can't wait to try are:

Kristy's Ice Wine Scallops at Eat, Play, Love; and

Sally's Scallops in Orange-Caramel Sauce at Bewitching Kitchen.


91 comments:

  1. Kelly - this looks wonderful! It's been way too long since I've made scallops, and garlic spinach is always a favorite.

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  2. I like the combination- it seems unique (i'd never think to pair squash with scallops!). I'll definitely need to make this one soon. thanks for sharing

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  3. Gorgeous dish! I love the mesquite flavor with the garlicky spinach.

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  4. Perfect dish. Love the use of squash and spinach especially with the garlic kick. I'm not a big scallop fan (sorry!) but I could see this being wonderful with some other type of fish.

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  5. We have fantastic scalops here and affordable.The combination with spinach will be great:))

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  6. Wow these scallops look awesome! Love the squash too. Yum!

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  7. I love scallops and can imagine these great flavors---garlic and mesquite along with the sweetness of the scallops and butternut squash. What a great meal!

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  8. I am so pleased you commented on my site because it has allowed me to find yours!
    I love healthy eating and I always try to find a good balance between flavour and nutrition. I love finding restaurants and recipes which deliver a delicious meal which is also good for our family.

    I will be following your site from now on :)

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  9. Wow - it looks delish...and you're right - he does seem to have the right touch!

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  10. I just love the look of those scallops!

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  11. I LOVE scallops. I haven't eaten them in awhile and this would would be perfect for a meal this week. Thanks for posting this

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  12. Bloated fish?! Now that brings back nasty memories of finding one floating around in an old lake in my childhood... urgh. Moving swiftly on, ho-hum... I'm not a huge fan of scallops (is it just me or are those scallops ENORMOUS?! - I'm used to them being about the same diameter as a golf ball!) but I love how this dish sounds and looks. I bet it would go perfectly with some big shrimps too!

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  13. Oh wow, I love scallops and those look delicious as well as the sides you had with them. I think I see scallops for dinner sometime this week! :-)

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  14. Mesquite seeds? Now you are teasing me.... of course, I only have 3 drawers of spices overflowing with bottles and bags, and you bring another option to the table.... (sigh, sigh, sigh)

    Lovely recipe, you know I love seared scallops, and thanks so much for the link to my blog, you are sweet as honey!

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  15. That's the magic! You are the magic, Kelly!

    I adore squash . And my, oh, my, this looks devine. X

    kim /My Inner Chick

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  16. Looks so tasty, I like the idea of this meal as 'date night'. My hubby and I enjoy scallops - how can you go wrong with the squash too! So seasonal, will have to try this soon! thank you
    Lynn

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  17. Thanks for the mention Kelly. These scallops look heavenly and seared to perfection! I think I only had an acorn squash once and that was before my palate expanded beyond pizza and pasta. LOL. I do LOVE cooked pumpkin though, so I have a feeling I would really enjoy it. What a great idea to eat alongside scallops. Yum! And I'm always up for a date night. :)

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  18. I love scallops in every form! (Well maybe apart from one dish with vanilla sauce served in a provincial pretending-to-be-elegant restaurant). Your dish looks very filling and light at the same time, indeed. Perfect for you caveman's diet I suppose ;-)
    I must google for mesquite seasonings. It's the first time I see it.

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  19. Mandy - The Complete Cook BookOctober 17, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    What an awesome find! I love recipes like this that work so well. Simplicity at it's best.
    Have a super week.
    :-) Mandy

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  20. What an absolutely perfect date night meal. Gorgeous and what a nice way of pairing the richness and buttery texture of scallops with squash. The unexpected mesquite and seeds is a lovely touch. Gorgeous!

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  21. Looks great! Love the comments too, I may try this with shrimp as well...

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  22. Restaurants like this are few and far between! You're super lucky to have found one! These scallops sound super amazing...I love the spices on them!

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  23. Gosh, I love the sound of this!

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  24. This recipe really has all of my favorite things in it!! What a great flavor combo.

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  25. Seared scallops. I love it. Scallops can be so good with the right recipe and it looks like you made it. I'm hungry :)

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  26. Not only is this a fabulous presentation, it's everything I like all stacked up! This would be a great date nite dish, very impressive and easy to make ahead. I have a few restaurants like that where I feel good about eating out and also get lots of creative ideas!

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  27. Such an easy elegant dinner. So interesting mesquite squash...I have some mesquite powder but haven't used it much - will have to give this a try, great idea!

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  28. Gorgeous--and I know just the kind of restaurant you're talking about--consistently great food, minimal fuss.

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  29. Acorn squash, like that you choose seasonal varieties..you are very talented!

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  30. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love.October 17, 2011 at 7:58 PM

    This is such a delicious-looking plate of food!

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  31. Hi Kelly. The scallops look wonderful and succulent. We were in Ottawa a couple of years ago for the Ice Carving Festival in February. I will keep this pub in my iPhone for future trips.

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  32. Wow,its looking gorgeous.Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.Its sounds too good.You have done a great job.Keep sharing with us in furniture too.

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  33. This sounds so, so fantastic. I've had a real thing for scallops lately...

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  34. Oh wow! I can't wait to try this.sounds unusual and looks very yummy.I really like the concept of this post and I feel that this is a very unique and rare information that you have managed to compile. It is quite interesting to read about this very rare topic

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  35. What a simple and elegant meal! I love roasted squash and seeds! It makes it so much easier to work with, too! Lovely, simple and satisfying! : )

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  36. I wish this would be my dinner today! Looks absolutely mouthwatering.

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  37. Oh, I love the idea of mesquite seasoned squash! I need to try that.

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  38. This looks simple to make and yet so elegant. I like how you topped it off with squash seeds. The mesquite seasoning sounds like a good fit with the squash.

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  39. What a great little place. Anything that totally fills you up but leaves your tummy happy is the best! This recipe looks so simple yet complicated enough that it would definitely be a crowd pleaser.

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  40. Thanks Ashley - I seem to get cravings for scallops... particularly when we are visiting Maine :)

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  41. Thanks Jill - it works quite well and is such a nice, light change from the heavier traditional carbohydrates - rice and potato.

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  42. Thanks Laura - mesquite is so yummy, isn't it.

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  43. No need to be sorry; we all lose our way from time to time. kidding! Yes, any fish or protein would work beautifully. Hope you enjoy.

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  44. Yeah! They are expensive so nice that you have them nearby in gorgeous New Zealand. Thanks for dropping by Dzoli.

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  45. Welcome Kara - thank you!

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  46. It's quite a medley of flavours - satisfying without being heavy. Thanks Eliot (my son and i were admiring your cat photo :)

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  47. Thanks Australia :) Thinking of you with thought of warmth (and envy - ha-ha!)

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  48. Thanks Ann - I wish I had a chef like that living in our home :) Wouldn't that be the ultimate treat?!!

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  49. Me too :) Thanks Yummy!

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  50. Yeah, the girl likes scallops!! :) Thanks for dropping by Kay.

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  51. They are indeed generously sized scallops :0 - Shrimp is a delightful choice.

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  52. Hi Amy! Let me know how your boys like them.

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  53. I've never come across mesquite seeds myself - however, I expect they exist somewhere. I mostly use them from powder.

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  54. merci ma belle -

    xo

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  55. I think you made me something similar to this last fall at your home in Mtl - one of your delightful salmons....mmm....

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  56. you know I've always had a thing for butternut squash but when we tasted this acorn, wow, a serious contender for first place. I couldn't believe how rich and flavourful...you must try again! :)

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  57. mesquite is a hardwood plant (shrub) - is has a rich, smoky flavour that is very unique (and, in my view, delightful). The wood is often used here for barbecuing (about like a cedar plank would be for salmon) and the seeds from the shrub are ground in powder form for seasoning, which is how I've used it here.

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  58. Thanks Sissi - mesquite is a hardwood plant (shrub) that has a characteristic deep, smoky flavour. The wood is often used in barbecues - the wood smokes and releases the mesquite flavour (a bit like a cedar plank with salmon). The seeds of the shrub are used in powder form as a seasoning, which is how I've used it in this recipe.

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  59. It is a bit of a find - thanks Mandy.

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  60. Thanks Shauna! The comments are fun, aren't they. I enjoy too :)

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  61. Thanks Joanne - now, I just need to get there from time to time. Gosh, don't you just love when someone else cooks for you? I know I do... the ultimate treat.

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  62. Welcome Jennifer! Low GI too :)

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  63. Yeah! I think it assembles some of my favourites too. Glad you enjoyed.

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  64. ha-ha, thanks Joanne!

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  65. Come to think of it, this is exactly how the chef typically presents it - in stacked form. I'm not sure why, but I just find that so appealing (the sprawling - lake effect - has lost its way with me - hee-hee).

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  66. Always fun to find ways of working in the mesquite! Thanks Jeanette.

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  67. You got it. Minimal fuss, maximal flavour.

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  68. How nice Sandi - thank you.

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  69. Thanks Stephanie :)

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  70. yeah! I hope you return for winterlude next year Eva!

    http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/celebrate/winterlude

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  71. me too... but I always have... :)

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  72. Thank you Anne - yes, the hardest thing about the squash is cutting it fresh! Once it's nicely cooked, so easy to peel off skin and even the mashing is a breeze - easily accomplished with a fork.

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  73. thanks so much Angie :)

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  74. The seeds are delicious and seem to complete the dish. Thanks Lisa.

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  75. Hi Amy! I hope you enjoy it if you give it a try.

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  76. Welcome Maren and thank you for your kind words. Yes, enough pizazz to work for a guest night dinner without being much effort for the host... yay!

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  77. What, how did I miss these. I've been remiss. I don't even know if that makes sense, but scallops are one of my favorites. These look wonderful!

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  78. Looks amazing. I love scallops and how "fancy" they are while being so quick to make!

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  79. love the mesquite and acorn squash mix! where did u get those seeds? i first saw them at a GF cooking class and it has such great aroma!

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  80. This is my level of gourmet at its finest. Great job dear. So drool-worthy :D

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  81. ha-ha - thanks Greg.

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  82. I know what you mean, they imply fancy but are so easy to prepare. Welcome Bree!

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  83. Good question! The powder (which is what I used) is derived from the seed - so the seed has to exist somewhere - I'm guessing Mexico and S/W US where mesquite is grown.

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  84. Thanks Kiran :)

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  85. This looks positively divine.
    xo
    http://allykayler.blogspot.com/

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  86. awesome for fall! love this!

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