Category: Seafood

Pan Seared Scallops with a Fava Bean Pesto Risotto

The first time I ever tried scallops I think I was about 19 years old and with a newfound interest in food but barely cooking myself.  I was at a restaurant, actually to be honest I think it was Macaroni Grill which is funny to me now since I would probably never order scallops from a macaroni grill, mimis cafe, chilis or the like at this point in my life.  I ordered a salad with scallops on it I remember and really had very little idea what scallops were or how they tasted, and remembering it now I think I forced my way through that first taste test.  There was nothing dramatically offensive about them, but the texture was slightly slimy however there was zero fish taste and in fact it is a notoriously sweeter taste.  I’ve posted one other recipe with scallops and it was a salad with sliced strawberries and seared scallops and because of the sweetness of the scallops the pairing with the strawberries was fantastic.

This time, I chose a more savory approach but one which I had at a restaurant shortly before I made this recipe.  I found that the risotto was a perfect pairing because of the creamy texture of risotto and the smooth texture of the scallops .  Overall this was not the most difficult thing I have attempted to make but it does take a bit of dedication, a moderate amount of planning, and a step by step adherence to the recipe.

I chose to add the fava beans mainly because they are in season but also because they seemed like a fun ingredient that I had seen at the farmers market.  Which is honestly how I choose the recipes I make.  Something seems fun, and there ya go.  Fava beans are not much different than cooking other fresh beans, but the thing to remember about favas is that they are double shelled, meaning there is the outer shell that holds the individual beans and then each bean has a softer shell that also needs to be removed. HERE is a good step by step of how to cook them.

For anyone who thinks scallops are beyond their skill, they are wrong and anyone who things scallops are too expensive is misadvised.  Granted, you will get a better quality scallop from a fish market but you can get some just fine from most supermarkets these days.

I found the risotto recipe HERE , and the seared scallop recipe HERE.

{The second shell coming off}

{And then, the risotto.  As long as you stay close to the stove you shouldn’t have too many issues with the risotto}

{As the rice absorbs the chicken stock, the rice will cook and the mixture will get slightly thicker and will develop the notorious creamy consistency of risotto}

{So at this point is where there should be pictures of scallops being cooked, however, I feel like raw scallops are not that pretty so I didn’t take any.  But the recipe I linked has great step by steps}

{The finished plate!}

Salmon with Panko Crust and Salmon Burger with Pickled Veggies

I know I probably mention this every time I post about a seafood recipe I made, but I cannot believe I used to dislike fish.  I mean, its understandable..the fishy smell can be quite off putting, especially for younger children who seemed to be pre-programmed to dislike anything green or that smells different than chicken…which has no smell.   Regardless, sushi was my turning point and after I became ok with seaweed the rest of my fish eating habits is history.

A couple years ago I had a roommate who also enjoyed cooking and she would make a similar panko crusted salmon which is where I got the idea.  Let’s face it, anything beautifully coated in a crunchy golden panko with a little butter and even garlic is quite irresistible, not to mention extremely easy to make.  If I was feeding more than just myself I would get the salmon filets from costco where you can get a good amount of bang for your buck as they say.  But my alternative is the frozen fish from Trader Joes.  Usually they come in freezer sealed packs of two or three filets and you can get salmon, tilapia, marinated ahi and other things but that’s usually what I get there.  Just think about how many you are feeding and choose a package with a weight accordingly (obviously the lighter the cutlets the cheaper it is).  You can keep it in your freezer for a week or two even before cooking it, which is always appealing when you get too many fresh vegetables that will go bad quicker.

When I made the panko crusted salmon I made both the pieces but knew I would only eat one.  So for a leftover meal I came up with the idea of making a salmon burger! The finished product resembled more of a crab cake-like patty but was absolutely delicious.  I even soaked sliced cucumbers and carrots in some rice vinegar for a couple hours before I made the burger and topped the patty with those along with a quick sriracha mayo…but honestly sriracha has been going on most things in this apartment lately.

HERE is a good recipe for panko crusted salmon.  And below is how I made the leftover into a salmon burger.

** I also made goat cheese and pesto smashed red potatoes. To make those boil the potato until fork tender, cut in half, smash with a potato masher and top with pesto and goat cheese then bake in a 400 degree oven until cheese gets slightly brown.

Salmon Burger with Picked Vegetables

Ingredients

  • 1 filet of cooked panko crusted salmon
  • 4 tbl light mayo
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3 tbl panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1/2 tbl capers
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Whole wheat bun
  • 1/2 cucumber sliced lengthwise
  • 1 whole large carrot sliced lengthwise
  • 1/2 c rice vinegar
  • 1 tbl sugar

Recipe

  1. A couple hours before eating or a day ahead combine the sliced carrot, cucumber, rice vinegar and sugar in a container, shake to mix and let sit in the fridge to marinate.
  2. In a food processer or by hand in a bowl combine the cooked salmon, 3 tbl mayo, egg, breadcrumbs, red chile flakes, capers and salt and pepper.  Mix thoroughly, you should be able to form a patty with the mixture.  If it is not holding together add more mayo.
  3. Heat 2 tbl olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat.  When hot add the pre-formed salmon patty.  Sear each side until golden brown, about 3 min each.
  4. While the patty is cooking, combine 1 tbl mayo with 1/2-1 tbl sriracha depending on your spice tolerance.
  5. At this point you can also toast the buns if you wish either in a toaster or in a preheated oven.
  6. When the patty is seared on each side (remember, the salmon is already cooked so you are just looking for a good golden brown crust, you don’t want to overcook it) remove from heat.
  7. Smear some sriracha mayo on bottom and top hamburger bun and place the salmon patty on the bottom bun.
  8. Top with the rice vinegar marinated vegetables and place top bun on, ENJOY!

*feel free to adjust the burger toppings to your liking.

{This is how I sliced the veggies, feel free to slice differently}

{The Finished Plate!}

{This is a jump in the directions but I didn’t get any in between pics}

{Pesto Smashed Potatoes}

{Leftover Salmon Patty Makings}

{The Finished Burger}

Creamy Spring Pasta with Paprika Shrimp

Nothing makes me more giddy than going out to check the mail and seeing a brand spankin’ new ‘Cooking Light’ magazine.  Some buy People magazine regularly, others have shelves and shelves full of National Geographic magazines…I have years worth of Cooking Light magazines built up.  At some point, I know it will be the smart thing to throw out some older ones or simply stop subscribing.  But it is such a joy to spend an afternoon flipping through the different recipes and planning new dinner menus.   I also just have a great love for this particular food magazine.  The recipes are always delicious but at the same time always on the lighter side (nutritionally).  They have a way of transforming recipes that everyone wants to eat into healthier versions so beautifully.  So if you’re thinking of picking up a food magazine, my recommendation is definitely Cooking Light.  Food Network mag is also good but not on the healthier side, and Bon Appetit is a little on the swankier side (aka not as versatile and easy to make all the recipes).    So there is my low down on various publications that are oh so important to everyones well being, but I know there are a few out there that feel the same way about food magazines, or even a different type…at least you understand my reaction to seeing the mag in the mailbox.

On another note, a lot of people ask me if I follow recipes or if I make them up as I go.  Well, it’s a little of both.  Most of the time I will see a recipe and either figure out how I can follow the basic premise of it but alter it to my delight (or based on what I have around).  Other times, I know I should follow it word for word.  But to be honest the ability to change it up is why I love cooking so much, as opposed to baking.  This post is one of those moments where I altered…most of it.  But when I saw a healthier version of a creamy pasta I knew I had to try it.  And because Cooking Light is so great about keeping the delicious taste of recipes while substituting lighter ingredients, you don’t have to worry about this cream sauce not living up to your favorite alfredo.

THIS is the recipe that I followed to make the cream sauce.  And the following are the ways I altered it based on what I had around.

1. I eliminated the asparagus and green peas.

2. I forgot to add the breadcrumbs, but wish I had.  So make sure to include those if you want.

3.  I toped the pasta with shrimp sauteed in 1 tbl olive oil until cooked through with 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp ground black pepper.

4. I substituted shells for fettuccine because that’s what I had around.

{Cooking Light love}

{1/3 less fat cream cheese is the perfect way to get a creamy sauce while keeping it healthy}

{Finished plate, garnished with capers and fresh parsley}

** I trust that you know how to boil pasta so I eliminated that instruction

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche

Ceviche…[Sa-vich-a] in my opinion should be renamed.  Possibly to something like, most incredible combination of ingredients, or dancing tastebuds…ok maybe not but part of me feels as though not enough people are familiar with the dish.  It seems to be a select population who are familiar with ceviche and those who are familiar with it have nothing but rave reviews.  So this is my attempt to spread the love for ceviche to those who have not tried it but would like to make it.  It happens to be an incredibly simple dish to make, no cooking just an hour or so of chopping and lime squeezing (that would have gone by a lot faster if I had owned a citrus juicer).

The first time I had ceviche I had no idea what I was in for, most of me was skeptical about the idea that the lime juice alone would cook the shrimp and fish enough that I wouldn’t get sick, but the other half loved shrimp and lime too much to walk away from the challenge.  So yes, it is what it seems, you simply place raw shrimp, white fish, tomato, onion, jalepeno etc. in a big bowl covered in lime juice and the acid from the limes will cook the shrimp in front of your eyes.  Before you close the page in disbelief just look at the pictures,  all that goodness in one bowl eaten with tortilla chips is a.)  a very healthy dinner b.)  will last you a couple meals and c.)  involves some of the most delicious ingredients that could come in one dish.

Now, you can add or subtract most things.  If you don’t like scallops feel free to eliminate them or add a different white fish.  The limes happen to be essential, however if you dont like tomatoes, onions, or jalapenos those can go.  Enjoy!

Shrimp and Scallop Ceviche 

Ingredients (this quantity lasted about 2 or 3 days of meals, simply cut the quantity of each to the amount you wish t make)

  • 2 lbs frozen uncooked shrimp thawed cut into chunks
  • 1lb scallops cut into chunks
  • 2 avocados cut into small pieces
  • 2 mangos cut into small pieces
  • about 20-25 limes depending on how much juice you get from each (just enough to cover all the ingredients)
  • 2 jalepanos seeded and cut small (keep the seeds if you like the heat)
  • 4 roma tomatoes seeds removed and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 yellow onion cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbl crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe

  1. Combine all ingredients except the mango and avocado and let sit in the fridge for about 3 hours or until the shrimp are completely pink.
  2. After about 3 hours drain about 1/2 the juice and add the mango and avocado.

Yup it IS that easy!!

Chili and Paprika Seasoned Tilapia with Orzo and Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts

There is no doubt that I love to cook, I’m pretty sure that can be accepted as truth.  However, I don’t always have others to cook for.  Not in any kind of bad way, there are just a lot of times where my roommates have already eaten or have plans and I have a specific recipe that some of them wouldn’t particularly like.  This meal in particular combined two aspects that are not universally loved dishes.  Although I seem to me meeting more and more people who enjoy fish or at least would try it, I tend to avoid cooking fish for others unless I know they will thoroughly enjoy it.  And on the other side, I feel that in general, brussel sprouts are not a dish that most people turn to.  At least, not many of my friends.

I actually had never tried brussel sprouts until this past December.  It was never a dish that my family made and never a side dish I would lean towards when ordering food at restaurants.  However, it came time that I realized I needed to try this dish that gathered such polarized responses, I needed to form my own opinion.  So I ordered a dish with brussel sprouts for dinner one night and came out feeling pretty indifferent towards them.  The glaze was a little too strong with dijon mustard but the actual vegetable was palatable.

I have also never cooked tilapia myself.  I’ve had it for other dinners and knew it would be a relatively easy fish to cook since it is light, thin, and very mild.  When I saw frozen filets at Trader Joes I knew I had to get them.  Because the fish is so mild it can be seasoned any way you wish, eaten by itself or put in tacos.  And although I rarely pass up the option to make mexican food, I knew the fish would pair well with the brussel sprouts, and over a bed of orzo it all tied together perfectly.

This dish is really easy to make, the fish takes about 15 minutes to cook because it is so thin and the brussel sprouts simmer until cooked through. (of course you could easily pair it with a different vegetable like broccoli or even a salad, if brussel sprouts are not your side dish of choice)

Chili and Paprika Seasoned Tilapia with Orzo

Ingredients: 3 servings

  • 3 small tilapia fillets (They come in packs of three at Trader Joes)
  • 1 tbl chili powder
  • 1/2 tbl paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1 cup orzo (could substitute rice)

Recipe:

  1. If the filets are frozen make sure they are thawed completely in the fridge before using (bacteria forms easier if meat in general is thawed out on the kitchen counter)
  2. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. cook orzo according to packaged instructions, set aside.
  4. place filets in a shallow baking dish, squeeze lemon juice and olive oil over the filets, season evenly with chili powder and paprika on both sides of each filet
  5. add salt and pepper to taste
  6. place in oven and bake 15-20 minutes until the filets are not opaque but white all the way through (I like baking my fish when I am eating it straight, if it is in something like fish tacos Ilike to pan sear the filets so they get crispier.  But it is up to you if you have a preference for crispy or not)

Balsamic glazed brussel sprouts

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb fresh brussel sprouts halved
  • 2 tbl olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup water

Recipe:

  1. wash brussel sprouts and cut each in half
  2. preheat oven to 350
  3. lay the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and toast about 5 minutes until golden brown, remove from oven and add cheese, mix.
  4. heat oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add brussel sprouts and saute until slightly crispy around the edges
  5. add water and simmer covered on low until the sprouts are fork tender.
  6. drain the sprouts and return to pan.  Add the vinegar and coat the sprouts in the pan and turn heat to low.  cook about 10 minutes
  7. remove sprouts to a serving dish and top with breadcrumbs.  bake an additional 15 minutes. ENJOY!

[The finished product]

Sauteed scallops with parsley and garlic over lettuce with sliced strawberries

Throughout my early cooking adventures where my palate started truly expanding I jumped at the chances to try new foods.  And throughout that adventure there was one thing that I surprisingly didn’t try until about a year ago were sea scallops.  Something about the name of them never really seemed that appetizing to me, reading a dish with scallops as the main protein never seems to trigger that pavlovian salavation reaction.  However I did end of trying them and to my surprise really like them!

As I mentioned in a previous post about salmon it took a long time for me to be an avid seafood eater.  And even after I accepted the life of a seafood lover I limited myself to fish and such that I knew would not be too fishy.  And for some reason scallops, in my head, fell into that category.  However let me be the bearer of good news SEA SCALLOPS ARE NOT FISHY! Ok, now that that has been cleared up lets get down to the recipe.  Scallops were the perfect addition to this meal,  on an unusually hot day I knew I needed to stick to something cool and light as a meal and scallops were the ideal protein making this meal satisfying, filling, and light all at the same time.  You can really add this scallop recipe to any meal whether it is pasta or just by themselves they were delicious, however adding the scallops to this salad was exactly what I wanted and a meal I highly recommend.

Sauteed Scallops with parsley and Garlic over mixed greens and sliced strawberries

Ingredients:

for the scallops: 7 large sea scallops, Salt and pepper to taste, 1 tbs olive oil, 1 tbs butter, 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley chopped fine, 1 large clove garlic.

for the salad: mixed greens, 1/4 cup fresh strawberries sliced, salad dressing of your choice (a lighter dressing like italian goes well)

recipe:

1. sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet that is large enough so all the scallops fit.

2. add scallops and cook 2.5 minutes on each side or until browned, set aside and keep warm.

3.  add butter to pan and melt butter.  Stir in parsely and garlic and cook 15 seconds until all ingredients are mixed together.  turn heat off.  Add the scallops to the mixture to coat well.

4.  rinse and chop lettuce if necessary.  slice strawberries and add to lettuce.  top the salad with the cooked scallops.  Add dressing to taste. ENJOY!