sometimes i go days and weeks in “survival mode” with feeding our family. life this summer has been a whirlwind; we have three kiddos working full-time and a summer visitor, we’re still unpacking and personalizing our home, and soon our oldest will “fly the nest” to leave for college for the first time. there are days when dinner is peppers dipped in guacamole and a brown rice cake with almond butter (and days the kids eat at work because none of us planned ahead to do otherwise!). but then i long to be creative again and, inspired by what’s available fresh and near our home, find myself making seared scallops with blueberries at midnight (insert shocked-face emoji).
until our family moved to the east coast, i’d never really had scallops. by that i mean, i’d never had scallops that literally were walked off the boat and into the waiting hands of the chef, who seared them and served them with just salt and pepper and butter and a little bit of lemon to brighten them. i’d never had scallops that were huge and so sweet that i wondered if i could have them for dessert.
our friend matt stopped by the other night after work, bringing our kiddos who are his co-workers, and smelling the butter and spices, he settled in at our kitchen island for a literal midnight snack. he laughed at my lighting setup to capture this dish for you, and he told me that i shouldn’t be using the word “compote” at 12:15am. i agree; this girl needs sleeeeep! but this is a season where we are trying to take the time we get; and can i tell you? this dish was worth the crazy.
little recipe note: i think this would be amazing with cranberries when they’re in season. i’m going to give it a try with the same ingredients and process when i can get my hands on some; if you try it first, let me know what you think!! oh and ps: my kids made me promise to say that they thought the hazelnuts overwhelmed the dish. i liked the crunch, but now that we live on the shore where there are gorgeous scallops to be had fresh off the dock, they’re purists. butter, salt, pepper, and we’re golden. so in honor of my food-critic-kiddos, maybe try making your hazelnuts smaller than mine, or leave them off altogether!
- 1 lemon
- 1 orange
- 1½ cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- ½ cup vegetable or chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon each cardamom and Chinese 5-spice blend
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves or ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- splash balsamic vinegar
- 1 pound fresh atlantic scallops
- ¼ cup chopped, toasted hazelnuts (optional)
- Using a fine grater or microplane, zest lemon and orange and reserve ½ of zest.
- In a medium saucepan, combine blueberries, broth, ½ zest and the juice of lemon and orange, cardamom and 5-spice blend.
- Create a small "bag" out of cheesecloth containing cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves.
- (Alternatively, you can place cinnamon stick and anise directly into compote and use ground cloves.)
- Bring blueberry mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer; allow to simmer approximately 20 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken.
- Remove cinnamon, star anise, and cloves from blueberry compote; stir in splash of balsamic vinegar and set aside.
- Rinse scallops and pat dry with paper towel.
- Lightly season with salt and pepper.
- Melt butter in batches in a hot skillet, searing each scallop just 1-2 minutes per side.
- Serve scallops on a drizzle of blueberry compote.
- If desired, top with zest and a sprinkle of hazelnuts.