Saturday, July 31, 2010

Diving into endive, with a scalloped edge

Summer's heat makes it hard to face spending much time in the kitchen, where it can get even hotter than the inferno outside. Yet, one cannot live by grill alone, even though that is tempting.

And salads. Salad after salad after salad is not good for the creative soul, although creativity and a composed salad can lend variety to summer's meals.

For something a little different, try scallops served on endive. To get the whole leaves from the tight little endive, keep trimming from the bottom of the core as you pull off the outer leaves. If the leaves seem a little limp, wrap them in damp paper towels and stick them in the refrigerator for a bit. (Save the small leaves on the core to slice into a salad later.) You can soften the cream cheese in the microwave if you have a soften setting; I zapped it twice at the 1-stick-of-butter setting and it was soft but not melted. As for the scallops, look for the cream-colored and rosy ones; they have a richer flavor.

Serve with saffron rice and sautéed green beans or spinach, and you'll have an elegant dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Diver scallops on endive
Serves 2

1/2 pound medium to large scallops (about 8)
McCormick's mesquite seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 ounces cream cheese
1 large endive, washed and separated into enough leaves for each of the scallops

Wash and dry scallops, set them in a single layer on a plate and season on one side with the mesquite seasoning. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, put in the scallops, seasoned side down. Meanwhile, spread about a teaspoon of the cream cheese on the endive leaves, and arrange on two plates. The scallops should cook until golden brown on each side and just until firm, about 8 minutes total. Drain on paper towels as you finish preparing the meal, then place one scallop on each endive leaf (they can be picked up and eaten easily). Serve.