This tasty little appetizer is made up of a sauteed sea scallop stacked on smokey braised collard greens, a savory rosemary-garlic polenta cake, and tangy sundried tomato and artichoke heart pesto. The dish is garnished with lovely delicate edible flowers.
Amuse boucheT: I wasn’t hungry at all when we sat down to eat this, but after my first bite… I was appetized. This was so tasty!
A: hell yeah. i had planned for it to be just a little appetizer to get us hungry for dinner…
T: well it certainly amused my boosh.
A: uh… boosh? ah…. bouche! i dig. i definately have to agree on this one. not all that much has been exciting my palate lately but this… this was spot on!
T: I know you’ve been saying that you’ve had no inspiration lately, that you’re bored with everything… so, what sparked this lovely little dish?
A: actually it was the left-over rosemary and garlic polenta that we ate with lamb steaks in an un-blogged-about meal the other day. it was just sitting in the fridge calling out to me saying, “amanda… please make me into some yummy fried up cakes… please? please? please?” from there it was just figuring out what i wanted to pair with the polenta cakes, you know?
T: you done good, woman. I really loved the paste on the bottom… what was that stuff? it was seriously good.
A: it was artichoke and sun-dried tomato pesto. pretty much just a paste of garlic, artichokes hearts, sundried tomatoes, pinenuts, lemon juice, and romano cheese.
T: i hope you’ll write a recipe for the lovely readers out there… their lives are lacking until they eat it themselves.
A: heheh i certainly plan to. you know, i always plan to write recipes… it’s just the over-whelming sense of laziness that leads me astray and tempts me to do other things… like read food blogs.
T: I feel ya. It’s tough to do things after work (or before work (or during work)).
A: well..uh… that pretty much rules out doing anything ever.
T: silly! It’s easy to do work at work. But, in your case, where work consists of staying awake at all hours of the night, I can understand how it would be difficult to get in extracurriculars.
A: fur sure dude! so, did you think all the elements of this little ditty worked well together?
T: this could have been served anywhere. It was just that good. Everything went together perfectly. I give it a 4.82/5. I can’t say enough about it.
A: wooo hooo! i love when i strike one out of the ballpark with you! this one actually hit home with me too.
T: I know you usually just get to 3rd base
A: ah! you dirty bastard… what if your grandmother reads this!
T: my existence proves that she knows what we’re talking about.
A: touche, t, touche! now to focus back on those lovely sea creatures…I don’t know what it is about sea scallops, but they just trigger some kind of happiness sensor with me. i mean, as long as they’re not over done, they’re just good, good, good!
T: i know, they’re so tender and mild. You just have to love them.
A: and it’s for that very reason that i give them a 4.7/5. tender, delicious and they went perfectly with the smokey collard greens, savory polenta cakes, and tangy pesto. geez… now i’m making myself salivate…
T: i’m salivating too.
A: you know, we never did get any dinner!
T: you mean, a can of Milwaukee’s Best Light doesn’t count?
A: not one! but drink five more and you’ll have consumed all your dinner calories
T: that’s right. Kids, you read it here first… you don’t need dinner… beer’s all you need!
A: note: this message is not approved by the u.s. government or the folks at what were eating.
T: or anybody.
p.s. I’d like to give a happy birthday shoutout to our friend Tanya over at the Directory of Hotels Blog. Cheers!
4 sea scallops
rosemary garlic polenta cakes (recipe follows)
smokey braised collard greens (recipe follows)
sundried tomato-artichoke pesto (recipe follows)
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the scallops liberally with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot, sear the sea scallops for about 2-2 1/2 minutes per side, flipping only once. Sear until just cooked through, about five minutes. squeeze all the liquid out of the collard greens, then layer pesto, polenta cakes, collard greens, and sea scallops in the middle of a plate. Garnish with edible flowers. Enjoy!
Rosemary Garlic Polenta Cakes
1 cup coursely ground yellow cornmeal (or yellow corn grits)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cup water
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup panko
kosher salt and pepper
Make the polenta: Melt 2 tbsp butter in a medium sized sauce pan over medium heat. Saute minced garlic and rosemary in the melted butter for a minutes. Add water and heavy cream, turn the heat to med-high, and bring the ingredients to a boil. As soon as the ingredients have reached a boil, slowly start to whisk in the corn meal. Reduce heat to low and simmer the polenta, stirring frequently. When the corn meal has absorbed all of the liquid, remove the polenta from the heat then season liberally with salt and pepper to taste. Line a small sheet pan or small square casserole dish with parchment paper, then spread the polenta evenly throughout pan. Allow the polenta to cool completely. (I make the polenta the night before, eat it warm then use the leftovers to make the polenta cakes the next day ;-) ) Place one cup of flour in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, do the same with the panko. In a third bowl, add on egg and a litte bit of water (to thin it out). Whisk the egg and water together. Using a ring mold or circular cookie cutter, cut out the polenta rounds. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with about a half inch of vegetable oil in the bottom. Dip each of the polenta rounds first in the seasoned flour, then in the egg, and finally into the panko. Set the polenta cake aside until the oil has properly heated. Repeat with the rest of the polenta rounds. To tell if the oil is hot enough, stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if bubbles start to form around the the wood, the oil's hot enough, or drop in a touch of panko and if the oil immediately begins to sizzle furiously, its ready. Add the polenta cakes to the oil, working in two batches so you don't over-crowd the pan (unless you're got a mega large pan... use your judgement :-P ). Fry each side of the polenta cakes for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel or a cooling rack. Enjoy!
Smokey Braised Collard Greens
2 thick slices bacon, roughly chopped
1 sm yellow onion, sliced
1 bunch collard greens, trimmed of unedible stalks and cut into about 1" pieces
2 cups water
salt and pepper
Saute the bacon in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Once all the oil has been rendered from the bacon and the bacon is crispy add the sliced onions. Saute the onions until they turn translucent, about ten minutes. Add the collard greens, two cups of water, a couple tablespoons of salt, and black pepper. Most of the salt will remain in the water, which will be discarded before eating, so don't worry about the amount. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Strain off the braising liquid before serving. Enjoy!
Sundried Tomato and Artichoke Pesto
1 8oz package frozen artichoke hearts
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, packaged in oil
2 tbsp pinenuts
2 cloves garlic
juice from 1/2 a large lemon
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
Blanche the artichokes in boiling water for one minute, then add them to a food processor. Add the sundried tomatoes, pinenuts, lemon juice, and garlic to the processor. Process the ingredients on high for a few seconds until they are pretty smoothly pureed, then add the romano cheese and scrap down the sides of the bowl. Turn the processor on high again and while processing, drizzle in the olive oil. If the pesto is still too thick, drizzle in a little more olive oil. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy the pesto on sandwiches, wraps, in appetizers, or with pasta!