Ranger Craig and I love scallops, especially pan seared scallops. I could eat them right out of the skillet. (Actually, I do that)
Scallops have a natural sugar content that, when pan seared, forms a yummy golden brown crust around a velvety smooth center. To make it easier to test for doneness I like to slice my scallops in half horizontally. You won’t find this practiced in a professional kitchen, but hey, when I’m cooking at home, I like to make dinner a little simpler.
Although I prepared pan seared scallops for this recipe, I also love to serve this salad with halibut cheeks, halibut filets, true cod and Dover sole, as well as grilled fresh salmon when it’s in season. The flavors of fennel and orange are highly complimentary and combining these two fresh flavors with fish, is 4th of July for the taste buds!
Add a little “something extra” to the Fennel and Orange salad with toasted walnuts and my favorite Valbreso French sheep’s milk feta. You can find this creamy sheep’s milk cheese at most grocery stores, but here in the Northwest, you’ll find it at PCC Natural Markets, QFC and Whole Foods.
Delightful, delicious and looks like sunshine on a plate. 🙂
10-12 large dry packed fresh scallops (ask your fishmonger for “dry packed” scallops. If packed in water or liquid solution, they will be soggy and resist forming that beautiful crust when pan seared)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons coconut, safflower, sunflower or peanut oil
1 large fennel bulb, quartered and thinly sliced (save a few fronds to use as garnish)
1 – 1 1/2 cups mandarin oranges, about 4 mandarins peeled and separated
2 cups arugula, baby spinach or spring greens (I like a mixture of all three)
1/3 cup good quality olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the “foot” or little muscle from each scallop. It’s a little piece of the scallop that is a bit more opaque than the rest of the scallop. Simply pull it off and discard. Slice each scallop in half horizontally. Season with salt and pepper.
In a heavy bottom skillet, heat the butter and oil on medium high heat. When the butter and oil are hot and frothy, almost smoking, add the scallops. You may need to do this in two batches. Don’t over crowd the pan or the scallops will steam rather than pan sear.
Let the scallops cook for a minute or two. When a golden brown crust forms on the bottom of the scallop turn it over to cook the other side and cook for another minute or two. Once the scallops look nicely toasted in color, transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Whisk together the oil, lemon juice and honey. Toss the fennel, greens and oranges in a large bowl and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
Drizzle all but a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette over the greens and toss. Taste salad for salt and pepper.
Plate the salad on a platter or individual plates and top with pan seared scallops. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the scallops and enjoy!
Options: To serve this salad without the scallops, top with sheep’s milk feta cheese and toasted walnuts or pecans. Or try serving with toasted pine nuts and your favorite Bleu cheese.