Sunday, August 7, 2011

Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables with Garlicky Sauteed Scallops on a Bed of Garlic Mashed Potatoes

I came up with this one this morning to use up some Farmer's Market vegetables and some old wrinkly potatoes. I also had some large scallops in the freezer and thought that sounded good. Mediterranean cooking at its most Teige. : ) If you want to reduce the carbs even further, omit the mashed potatoes. Also, lemon zest may be used where I list Lemon Verbena, although the dish will be more acidic. Scott is allergic to citrus, so I've developed some tasty alternatives. The amounts below serve 4 for lunch.

Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables

6 Tbsp. olive oil
6 oz. frozen pearl onions
4-5 large fresh garlic cloves
3 small (4-5 inch long, 1-1.5 inch diameter) zucchinis
1 Japanese eggplant - 2.5 to 2 inch diameter x 10 inches long
2 medium (2.5-3 inch diameter) fresh tomatoes
Thyme - 1/2 tsp. dry or 2 tsp. fresh
Oregano - 1/2 tsp. dry of 2 tsp. fresh
1/2 tsp. finely minced fresh lemon verbena leaves
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Roll cut or dice eggplant into small pieces, approx. 3/4 inch
Roll cut or dice zucchini into small pieces, same size as eggplant
Peel and minch garlic
If using fresh herbs, remove leaves from stems and finely mince thyme and oregano together.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbps. olive oil to pan. Swirl to coat. Add frozen pearl onions. Cook, shaking pan every few minutes 'til onions start to caramelize, approx. 7 minutes. Pour onions into small bowl. Set aside.
Return skillet to medium high-heat. Add 4 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet. Add eggplant pieces and immediately toss or stir to coat evenly with hot oil. Continue cooking 'til eggplant softens, about 5 minutes. Add last Tbsp olive oil, the garlic, and the zucchini. stir and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Add pearl onions, chopped tomatoes, thyme, oregano, lemon verbena, and 1/2 tsp. salt to eggplant and zucchini in skillet. Stir. Reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking 'til juices thicken, about 10 more minutes. Cover, and reduce heat to low. If vegetables start to become too dry, add water 1 Tbsp at a time to maintain thick, but moist texture.

Garlicky Mashed Potatoes

3 medium russet potatoes, preferably a little old or flabby
3 large cloves garlic
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt

Fill medium saucepan with 2 inches cold tapwater. Peel potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Place in water in saucepan. Peel garlic cloves and place in saucepan with potato slices. If needed, add cold water to barely cover potatoes and garlic. Put over high heat until water boils. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking until potatoes are tender, approx. 10-15 minutes. Drain.

Put potatoes and garlic cloves through a potato ricer into a medium metal bowl. Add cream, butter, and salt and stir until smooth. Do not overstir, however, as potatoes will become gummy if overworked. Put 2 inches of fresh water in the pan you used to boil the potatoes and bring to simmer. Cover bowl holding mashed potatoes and place it over the simmering water to keep the potatoes warm.

Garlicky Sauteed Scallops

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
12 large sea scallops

If scallops are frozen, be sure to thaw thoroughly before starting Garlic Mashed Potatoes. 

Mince garlic cloves
Pat scallops dry with kitchen towel.

Place heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Melt butter and wait for for foam to subside. Add scallops to hot oil around edge of skillet and cook for one minute. After this one minute, add the garlic to center of pan and cook with scallops for one additional minute. Turn scallops and cook for two additional minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

To serve: 
Working quickly, spread a quarter of the Garlicky Mashed Potatoes (approx 1/3 cup) in a 5-6 inch circle on a dinner plate. Carefully spoon a quarter of the Ratatouille-inspired Vegetables (approx 3/4 cup) into potato circle, leaving 1/2 inch edge of potatoes visible. Place three scallops on each plate, on top of the bed of vegetables. Over the scallops, spoon a bit of the liquid remaining in the skillet, including some of the garlic bits. Sprinkle red pepper flakes and salt to taste over all.


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