Cornmeal-Crusted Scallops with Mint Chimichurri & Couscous Pilaf

Cornmeal-Crusted Scallops with Mint Chimichurri & Couscous Pilaf

I know, I know, it’s a long name. But hear me out, it’s worth it! I was planning to make a scallop recipe from the May 2005 issue of Cooking Light and was inspired to take it to another level. I had a monster mint plant in my Aerogarden that had to go to make room for growing my tomato and pepper seedlings for the coming (hopefully) garden season. At first, I thought I’d just make a nice side dish that would complement the delicious scallops and let me use some more mint, but I think these dishes really belong together. I can’t imagine one without the other, so I’ve combined them here. It can seem a bit confusing, what with three separate components going together in a short time, but it’s not as difficult as it looks if you get everything ready before you start to cook. My only regret with this dish was that all the gorgeous brownings went to waste (see the photo in Step 7.) That’s almost criminal! I think the next time I make this, I’ll deglaze the pan and use that in the dish as well. I’ve written the recipe to reflect that.

About that getting everything ready bit? I didn’t. I should have. I remember way back in the dinosaur ages when I took Home Ec at school. My mom had already taught me how to cook and sew, and I was pretty confident the class was a waste of my time. This poor attitude prompted me to blatantly ignore the instruction to prepare all the ingredients before starting to cook, just because the teacher said to. I thought all it did was give you more dishes to wash; you might be thinking that, too. For simple, easy recipes, that’s probably true. But for more complicated dishes, or for quickly-cooking dishes like this one that have a lot going on in a short time, I’ve come to see the wisdom in preparation. You’ll see it here, too — or rather, not see it. Because I ignored my own advice, everything kind of got away from me time-wise, which means I didn’t remember to weigh the mint leaves so that folks who don’t use cup measures know how much to use, and I didn’t get pictures of a few steps. Sorry, I’ll try to get them next time, because I will definitely be making this again!

5/16/18 Update: the mint leaves weigh about 90 g.

*Note that my couscous package lists a cooking of 8 to 10 minutes. If yours is significantly longer than that, you may need to start the scallops later than I did.

Ingredients:

 

For the Chimichurri:

½ serrano pepper

1 cup (~90 g) loosely packed fresh mint leaves

5 – 6 scallions (green onions)

1 whole clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (don’t juice the lime until you’ve grated ¼ teaspoon of zest)

2 teaspoons raw honey

2 teaspoons water

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

¾ cup water

½ cup pearled couscous

½ serrano pepper

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp lime zest

1 small zucchini

1 large carrot

4 scallions (green onions)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

For the scallops:

1 pound sea scallops

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Preparation:

1.) Since everything cooks very quickly, it’s best to prepare your ingredients & set them aside before you begin cooking:

  • Remove the stem from the Serrano pepper and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and membranes with a spoon. (Leave the membranes if you want more heat.) Mince one half, keeping it separate.
  • Finely mince some mint for 1 tablespoon. Measure one cup of loosely packed leaves, keeping those separate.
  • Slice four of the scallions and roughly chop six or more of them, keeping the piles separate.
  • Mince one clove of the garlic, leaving the other one whole.
  • Measure out your couscous.
  • Zest the lime for ¼ teaspoon, and then squeeze its juice. You’ll use some of the juice for the chimichurri and some for the couscous.
  • Measure the salt, pepper, and cumin into a small prep bowl.
  • Dice the zucchini and carrot.
  • Measure your cornmeal into a shallow bowl.
  • Pat the scallops dry with paper towel.

 

2.) Prepare the chimichurri first, so that its flavors have a bit of time to meld. Place all of its ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until finely chopped. Set aside.

 

3.) Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium heat in the pan you’ll be using for the couscous. Add the minced garlic, & sauté until fragrant and barely golden, about 30 seconds. Add ¾ cup of water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the couscous, minced Serrano, lime zest, salt, pepper, & cumin. Set a timer for 5 minutes less than your couscous package says to cook.

 

4.) Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge a third to a half of the scallops in the cornmeal and add to the hot pan. Avoid overcrowding, as that can keep them from getting a good sear. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until just done (the center will no longer be translucent, and the outsides will be nicely browned.) Be careful not to overcook. Repeat with the remaining scallops, adding additional oil a teaspoon at a time as needed. Transfer each batch of cooked scallops to a plate to keep warm when done.

 

5.) Here’s where you’re glad you already prepped things because you’ll still have scallops cooking quickly when the timer from Step 3 sounds. Stir the zucchini and carrot into the couscous pot, put the cover back on, and set the timer for 5 minutes.

5 c-cs

6.) Continue cooking the scallops as described until they are all done. Once the couscous is done, remove from heat, and stir in the sliced scallions, lime juice, & mint.

6 c-cs

7.) Optional: Look at all that gorgeous fond! Deglaze the pan with some water, then cook it down to about two tablespoons. It can then be added to the couscous, mixed in with the chimichurri, or poured over the finished dish.

7 c-cs

 

c-csNutritionLabel.png

Cornmeal-Crusted Scallops with Mint Chimichurri & Couscous Pilaf

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Ingredients

For the Chimichurri:

½ serrano pepper

1 cup (~90 g) loosely packed fresh mint leaves

5 – 6 scallions (green onions)

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (don’t juice the lime until you’ve grated ¼ teaspoon of zest)

2 teaspoons raw honey

2 teaspoons water

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the pilaf:

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon olive oil

¾ cup water

½ cup pearled couscous

½ serrano pepper

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

¼ tsp cumin

¼ tsp lime zest

1 small zucchini

1 large carrot

4 scallions (green onions)

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint

 

For the scallops:

1 pound sea scallops

2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Directions

1.) Since everything cooks very quickly, it’s best to prepare your ingredients & set them aside before you begin cooking:

  • Remove the stem from the Serrano pepper and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and membranes with a spoon. (Leave the membranes if you want more heat.) Mince one half, keeping it separate.
  • Finely mince some mint for 1 tablespoon. Measure one cup of loosely packed leaves, keeping those separate.
  • Slice four of the scallions and roughly chop six or more of them, keeping the piles separate.
  • Mince one clove of the garlic, leaving the other one whole.
  • Measure out your couscous.
  • Zest the lime for ¼ teaspoon, and then squeeze its juice. You’ll use some of the juice for the chimichurri and some for the couscous.
  • Measure the salt, pepper, and cumin into a small prep bowl.
  • Dice the zucchini and carrot.
  • Measure your cornmeal into a shallow bowl.
  • Pat the scallops dry with paper towel.

2.) Prepare the chimichurri first, so that its flavors have a bit of time to meld. Place all of its ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until finely chopped. Set aside.

3.) Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium heat in the pan you’ll be using for the couscous. Add the minced garlic, & sauté until fragrant and barely golden, about 30 seconds. Add ¾ cup of water and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the couscous, minced Serrano, lime zest, salt, pepper, & cumin. Set a timer for 5 minutes less than your couscous package says to cook.

4.) Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge a third to a half of the scallops in the cornmeal and add to the hot pan. Avoid overcrowding, as that can keep them from getting a good sear. Cook 3 minutes on each side or until just done (the center will no longer be translucent, and the outsides will be nicely browned.) Be careful not to overcook. Repeat with the remaining scallops, adding additional oil a teaspoon at a time as needed. Transfer each batch of cooked scallops to a plate to keep warm when done.

5.) Here’s where you’re glad you already prepped things because you’ll still have scallops cooking quickly when the timer from Step 3 sounds. Stir the zucchini and carrot into the couscous pot, put the cover back on, and set the timer for 5 minutes.

6.) Continue cooking the scallops as described until they are all done. Once the couscous is done, remove from heat, and stir in the sliced scallions, lime juice, & mint.

7.) Optional: Deglaze the pan with some water, then cook it down to about two tablespoons. It can then be added to the couscous, mixed in with the chimichurri, or poured over the finished dish.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. athome7 says:

    What a great recipe. I’m looking forward to trying it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. julie says:

      I hope you enjoy it! Come back & tell me how it went 😊

      Like

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