Here I pair sweet scallops with ancient grains and barley. These grains have very low environmental impact and are notably healthful, and when you cook with them, you support multi culture farming. The method is similar to making a risotto, but I have dubbed it porridge, a good New England word to go with New England scallops. The flavors are wonderful.

 

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 tablespoons grape seed oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 cup peeled and diced (about 1/4″) heirloom squash, such as kabocha, buttercup, or butternut
1 cup peeled and diced (1/4″ pieces) roasted chestnuts
1 cup Cooked Black Barley or Farro or 1 cup cooked grano or spelt
1 cup rich chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup peeled and diced good-quality baking apple, such as Real Granny Smith or Pippin
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups fresh bay scallops, such as Nantucket Bay or Taylor Bay (about 11/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Herb Salad
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

 

Steps

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the grape seed oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.
  3. Add the squash and chestnuts, cover, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the squash softens a little.
  4. Add the cooked grains, stock, cider, and apple. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until the grains begin to absorb the liquid and become tender.
  5. Stir in the crème fraîche.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside and keep warm.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of grape seed oil in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  8. Add the scallops. Cook in the hot oil for 2 minutes without moving them, or until they begin to turn opaque.
  9. Stirring them lightly, add the butter, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer, or until the butter melts and the scallops are plump, not split, and are cooked through.
  10. Transfer to a warm plate lined with a clean kitchen towel to drain.

 

Herb salad:

  1. Mix together the parsley, tarragon, chives, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
  2. Toss with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Gently stir about three-quarters of the scallops and three-quarters of the herb salad into the grains.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among 4 warmed bowls.
  5. Top with the remaining scallops and herb salad.

 

After many years of environmentally damaging harvesting practices, a lot of fishermen along the Northeastern seaboard have begun to rake the scallops to harvest them. Their hauls may be smaller, but the method preserves the beds so that the scallops are plentiful year after year and this benefits more than just scallop fishermen and scallop lovers: The bivalves aerate and filter the seawater, which is crucial to keeping the water clean. Off the island of Nantucket, the scallop industry is completely sustainable, which is why I like to use Nantucket scallops whenever possible. Eaten raw, their flavor is reminiscent of apples, making them perfect partners for apples and apple cider.

Photo Courtesy of Andre Baranowski.  Baranowski is a NY based food photographer and was the principal photographer for Michel Nischan’s cookbook – Sustainably Delicious.