Categorized | All Recipes, Savory

Sun Dried Tomato Orzo and Scallops

Posted on 09 January 2011 by Mădălina

A perfect date night meal that won’t have you slaving over a stove. If your lady/guy friend doesn’t like seafood, you can substitute the protein.

A friend of mine recently approached me to give him some ideas for a meal that would wow any potential date. Guys do well with straight forward instructions, so my challange was to find a simple recipe– one that could be prepped ahead and requires minimal culinary aptitude, but can still fool a date into thinking you know your way around the kitchen. If you’re date isn’t a fan of seafood, substitute scallops for any protein.

An optional element of this recipe is the garlic rosemary olive oil, which can always be substituted for extra virgin olive oil. However, if you have the time, making garlic rosemary olive oil will add extra depth to your dish and can be used for many other dishes. You might benefit from learning from my mistake: use clarified butter for searing your scallops, it withstands high heat better.

Rosemary Garlic Olive Oil
[yields ~1 cup]
- 6-10 cloves of garlic, depending on palate
- 2-4 rosemary leaves, washed and dried
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
+ airtight glass jar that accommodates the volume of the ingredients
+ skewer (to thread garlic)

1. Trim the ends of your garlic cloves, and carefully peel them. Skewer the garlic cloves onto rosemary leaves. I only used 2 rosemary leaves, cut in half– I wanted the oil to be more garlic-y. I threaded the remaining garlic cloves onto a skewer.

2. Place garlic and rosemary in jar, top with olive oil. Seal the jar, and store in a cool (~4-6′C; 40-45′F) dry place. It takes about 7-10 days for the garlic and rosemary flavor to develop. You do not want to leave the oil at room temperature, because the garlic will go rancid. Once the flavor develops, you can strain the oil into a different container which, then can be stored at room temperature.

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Orzo (served warm or cold)
[yields 4 servings, double recipe for 8]
- 1 cup Orzo pasta
- 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh or frozen basil, finely chopped
- 4-6 medium size oil packed sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic rosemary olive oil, or substitute extra virgin olive oil
+ salt and pepper to taste (~ 1/2 teaspoon of each)
+ 1 tablespoon salt for pasta water
+ 2L water for boiling pasta

1. In a large pot, bring salt and water to a boil. Add orzo, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. Strain and set aside in a large bowl.
2. In a small bowl, combine garlic rosemary olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, basil and seasoning. Pour over pasta, and toss together until combined.  Serve warm or chilled. 

Pan Seared Scallops
- 3 to 4 medium-size scallops per person
- 1 tablespoon
clarified butter, (I didn’t, and the milk solids burnt in the pan (lesson learned))
- 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
+ kosher salt for seasoning
+ nonstick sauté pan

1. Rinse scallops in cold water. Pat dry with paper towel to remove any moisture from the scallops. Season with kosher salt (thats it!)
2. Heat oil and butter in a saute pan. Your oil needs to be extremely hot in order to sear the scallops– you want to let it heat until you see the tiniest bit of smoke come from your pan. You’ll want to use clarified butter, which is butter that has any milk solids removed through a
melting/straining process. I didn’t do this, and I thought I could get away with it– I was wrong. You’ll see in the photo below that the milk solids actually started to burn a little in the pan, which isn’t desirable. Learn from my mistake and use clarified butter, it withstands high heat better.

3. Place the scallops flat-side down in the hot pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan, or you’ll lower the pan temperature, causing the scallops to be steamed rather than seared. Once you place them in your pan, DON’T touch them. Moving them will prevent them from creating the desirable brown crust. Peaking is allowed, but don’t move them.
4. Because scallop size varies, its difficult to pin-point the exact cooking time; general rule is that once it develops a golden brown crust (over high temperature), they’re ready to be flipped (~3 min/side).
5. The ideal scallops will still have spring to them when pressed, and be slightly milky in the middle. Keep in mind that the scallops will continue to cook for (~1-2 min) after you’ve removed them, because of residual heat. If you’re scallop is firm, you’ve over cooked them.
6. Serve scallops right away, or they will develop a rubbery texture.


11 Comments For This Post

  1. Tanja Richards Says:

    Maddy this looks delicious. When I do my pan seared scallops I always use grape seed oil it has a higher smoking point. I think I’ll try this for my fella on the weekend! Thanks:)

  2. Mădălina Says:

    Good advice! I love the taste of butter with scallops, so I opted for the blend. I have to try the grape seed oil though:) thanks

  3. brock Says:

    I’m going to have to try this! Looks so good! Maybe I’ll give it a whirl with some chicken!

  4. Cubicle Says:

    I need my husband to make this for me. I think I’ll leave a printout of the recipe for him by the coffee maker!

  5. Rick Says:

    My girlfriend loves scallops. I can’t wait to try this out. I’m very new to cooking but your instructions are so clear!

  6. Sonia (foodiesleuth) Says:

    I’m wondering about your instructions on how to make the garlic-rosemary olive oil….My sister and I did this one year to make for Christmas gifts and the garlic turned greenish-blue and we had to dump the whole project.
    We later were told that adding fresh garlic to olive oil can result in botulism.

    Please read:
    Flavored olive oils and dressings make great gifts but watch out; there are safe and unsafe ways to make infused olive oil. The unsafe way is to put anything in the oil that contains any trace of water or moisture. That would include garlic, lemon peel, fresh peppers, fresh herbs and spices. The oil will not support bacterial growth but the water containing herbs will. Botulism bacteria can grow in this type of environment, even in a sealed bottle.

  7. Mădălina Says:

    Brock– You can substitute ANY protein and it will still be yummy.

    Cubicle — … I love your subtle hints for the hubby. Does it also work with big ticket items, like diamonds perhaps ;) ?

    Rick — thankkk you, I hope they make sense…sometimes its hard to write down the process. You’re girlfriend will love that you’ve made the effort to cook her a meal you know she’ll enjoy; good luck!

    Sonia — your concern about botulism is totally valid. You’re absolutely right about bacteria penetrating and developing in oil, but this likely happens if it isn’t stored properly. If you store the oil at a cool temperature, it prevents (or reduces) this type of bacteria from forming. The olive oil might harden at the temperatures I listed, but a few minutes at room temperature before using it will bring it back to the right consistency. If this is a concern, you can always add finely minced garlic to the orzo, with fresh extra virgin olive oil– it’ll still be delicious :)

  8. Holly Says:

    I always peek, and they never brown. I think that was my mistake :)

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