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.