Friday, August 7, 2009
Grapefruit, Avocado Quinoa Salad w/ Seared Scallops: A week's worth of inspiration
“I've been so lazy in my cooking lately. Meatless meatballs from TJ's tonight. LAME. And repeat dishes over and over again. I just haven't been excited about any recipe lately! I need to find some inspiration!” I wrote to Chrystal, the feminine half of the Duo Dishes, on Monday.
She sent me some words of encouragement back, but I still felt blocked. There weren’t any restaurant dishes I felt compelled to recreate (since I haven’t been dining out as much lately), and my efforts to find new healthy recipes on my favorite food-related sites were unsuccessful. As delicious as cheesy polenta and homemade ice cream drumsticks sounded to my inner glutton, neither would be doing my heart any favors.
Then, on Tuesday, as I reviewed the pictures of the crave-worthy scallop nachos that my brother made at my mom’s birthday dinner party on Saturday night, I started thinking about scallops. And avocado.
From avocado, my mind travelled to grapefruit since the two are a natural pairing (like high-brow pb & j without the bread). While I tried to wrap my head around what I could do with scallops, grapefruit and avocado, I remembered that Miss Kirby Von Scrumptious swears by some sort of quinoa and grapefruit salad conglomeration. I liked the idea of serving scallops over quinoa since quinoa looks slightly sand-like and scallops come from the sea (hello, beach scene!), and I soon had a clear idea of the base ingredients I wanted to use in my (hopefully) fab new dish.
For added bulk and a crunchy contrast to the slick scallops and creamy avocado, I stole a line from the $17 Café R+D chicken chopped salad and added English cucumbers to the mix. Edamame was another must since I’m fairly obsessed with those green little nuggets of soy joy and would put them in my oatmeal if it were palatable. At this point, I knew I would dress the whole thing with some sort of lime, grapefruit juice concoction, but there was still something critical missing.
A hot, well-muscled date to eat it with me.
And, fine, some fresh herbs.
It was at this fork in my recipe conception road that I read Food Woolf’s article “Expert advice on essential pantry herbs” where Lily Baltazar identifies the peppery arugula leaf as a must-have in the kitchen.
It was like a sign from God.
Or just a sign that I read too many food blogs.
Either way, I was finally 1980s stoked about getting into my kitchen, and I could hardly wait to get home from work last night so I could put my week’s worth of inspiration into action. The whole drive home I pictured the process in my head – like I was mentally preparing myself for a race or an ill-timed weekend shopping trip to the Grove.
Everything came together just as I envisioned it (even though I was dismayed to discover that the grapefruit I commandeered from Trader Joe’s was pink and not ruby red), but even more importantly, it tasted how I envisioned it.
As I tour my fork through the fluffy quinoa, succulent $19.99/lb scallops that made me cringe at the check-out stand, tart grapefruit, and sultry green things, I was hardly even cognizant that many of my fellow food bloggers were enjoying eight delicious courses courtesy of Roberto Cortez at BreadBar.
I was eatin’ good in my own hood, and nothing was going to get me down. Not even the lack of hot, well-muscled date part.
Grapefruit, Avocado Quinoa Salad w/ Seared Scallops
3 large fresh scallops
¼ cup shelled, cooked Edamame
½ grapefruit, segmented
¼ avocado, chopped
1 small English cucumber, chopped
1 large shallot, roasted until crispy (approximately 45 minutes at 350 degrees)
2 teaspoons lime juice
2 teaspoons grapefruit juice
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinch of lime zest
Salt, pepper to taste
Combine dressing ingredients and set aside.
Prepare quinoa according to package instructions. (I prepared mine using ½ cup chicken broth). When done, set aside to come to room temperature.
Toss room temp quinoa with segmented grapefruit, avocado, cucumber, edamame and arugula. Apply dressing to taste (may not need to use it all).
Cook scallops approximately 2-3 minutes on each side (depending on thickness of scallop). Plate the quinoa mixture and then top with scallops and crispy shallots.