In the wintertime, we definitely need heartier foods – like braised short ribs – to make up for all the extra energy we expend to keep our bodies warm. Our winter jackets can only do so much – homeostasis is key in the frigid months. But there are only so many soups, stews, and root vegetables we can eat. Sometimes we need something refreshing, and that’s when we can turn to seasonal winter fruits.
As the freezing temperatures drag on in New York, I find myself sick of my cold-weather favorites, and reaching for lighter hybrids that still match the season, as much as possible. You won’t find me scarfing down gazpacho and mango salads in the winter, but I will gravitate toward less grave dishes as February’s freeze drifts into March.
Scallops are kind of my secret weapon – you know I’m trying to impress someone when I pull them out. There’s just nothing like a well-seared, perfectly tender and striated little gem.
I love doing bright, springtime risotto with lots of basil or mint, or fall vegetable quinoa topped with almond-crusted, sturdy-on-the-outside, melty-on-the-inside bivalves. The possibilities are vast. When cooked properly, scallops are incredibly simple and can stand as the centerpiece of a meal with few accoutrements.
In this dish, I kept things clean by simply searing the mollusks and nestling them on winter fruit marmalade – grapefruit and blood orange segments cooked down in butter with salt, black pepper, and lemon. I finished things with toasted pistachios and fresh basil, the latter my favorite thing to devour solo, add to my copious daily water, or brighten almost any dish.
Scallops boast clean protein, the fuel most of us need to remain focused and energized as we move through our days productively, with ease and joy. Their most shocking health benefit is their B12 content – a mere 4 ounces provides over 100% of your daily needs. B12 is key in supporting the adrenal glands and cell formation, so you don’t feel totally burned out when things get busy in your life. This essential vitamin also calms your nervous system, making you less hyper-vigilant emotionally reactive.
Scallops boast a surprising amount of phosphorus, which supports healthy bone formation (no milk required!), aids digestion and balances hormones. Other crucial minerals found in scallops include potassium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and choline.
B12 deficiency is super common in recent years, and often what’s going on when you “just don’t feel right,” but your doctor can’t come to a diagnosis. Think low-grade chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, headaches, skin issues and lethargy. If one or any combination of these is going on for you, get your B12 levels checked and shoot me an email – we’ll get you straightened out.
I hope you enjoy this sweet little dish as an appetizer, meal, snack – whatever it ends up being for you.
Seared Sea Scallops with Winter Fruit
½ pound scallops
2 blood oranges
3 T butter, or olive oil
3 T safflower oil
1 T honey
½ cup pistachios
¼ cup fresh basil
Rinse scallops and dry very thoroughly with paper towels or clean dish cloth. Add safflower oil, or other high heat oil, to nonstick skillet and bring to very high heat.
Place scallops in pan, and allow to sear for 3 minutes, or until crust starts to develop. Once adequately browned, flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on other side. Depending on size of scallops and height of flame, you will need more or less time. The hotter, the better.
Peel grapefruit and blood oranges and slice into segments, removing seeds. Add to small saucepan with butter, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add juice of ½ lemon, honey, salt and pepper to taste, and allow to cook down for 10 more minutes.
Toast pistachios on medium heat in dry pan, stirring constantly to avoid burning.
Spoon fruit onto plate, and top with scallops. Chop toasted pistachios and sprinkle over top. Chiffonade basil and garnish generously. Finish with coarse sea salt.
Photo: Jake Freeman