Another day another dinner…honestly that’s sometimes how I feel. Luckily, on those days I have a wonderful guy to pick up the slack and who can whip something yummy up from the dredges of our fridge and small pantry. Other times, I have planned dinner out to a “T” for the whole week and get annoyed when he uses something up, that (in my mind) I had dibs on. It gets complicated…In the summer though, I get inspired by all the colorful produce and try to do as minimal cooking as possible – essentially leaving the veggies raw, enhancing them with some salt and pepper and fresh herbs. The veggies stay vibrant and presentation can be pretty spectacular without a ton of effort. It’s easier to do than you think, it keeps the kitchen cool (keeping the cook happy) and is super fast…you can make soups, salsas, salads, and pestos galore!
I’d been hearing about green goddess dressings a lot recently - I can personally vouch for this one by Melissa Clark - and then a few weeks ago I saw a recipe for a red goddess salad dressing - which I have yet to try, but think looks pretty awesome – which got me to thinking about how my pestos are always green – delicious, but unfailingly green. So why not try a red one, I thought and why not make your first time doing it for your blog…so foolish of me. However, dressings and pestos are sort my thang, my niche, my comfort zone, so I forged ahead and thought the results were quite tasty.
This recipe yields about a cup of pesto, more than you probably need for the dish, and if you don’t end up finishing it in a few days, you should freeze it. Then some day when you are spent and have no interest in cooking and are complaining that the fridge is empty anyways, your other (slightly more resourceful) half can pull it from the depths of the freezer and make something annoyingly impressive with it.
Red Pesto + Sea Scallops Salad PRINT
[Prep: 15 mins / cook time: 25min / TOTAL: 40 mins]
[Serving size: 2 dinner portions, 4 app portions]
Toast the pearl couscous in a 3-quart [medium sized] pot with 1/2 tablespoon butter until slightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add1-1/4 cup water and a dash of salt. Bring to a boil over med-high heat then cover and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
Wash and core red pepper. Add to blender/food processor along with sundried tomatoes, 1/4 cup olive oil, garlic, tarragon, pine nuts, a few grinds black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth and all ingredients are well incorporated.
After washing the spinach and sorrel, cut both into thin ribbons. [Note: sorrel is more common in the spring and fall, it doesn't love the heat, so if this is hard for you to find this summer you should sub in any flavorful green you like...basil, arugula, curly endive...get creative, go crazy!]
Zest and juice the lemon.
Pat dry the scallops and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat and add 1/2 tablespoon butter and a 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the butter begins to foam and brown slightly add the scallops to the skillet, spacing them out generously. Let sit for 3-4 minutes until the underside is golden brown. Flip, cover and wait one minute more. Turn off the heat, remove the scallops from the skillet, add lemon juice to the skillet and step back – it will smoke a little – this will deglaze the pan and pick up all the flavor from the scallops.
By now the pearl couscous should be finished cooking. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, the drippings from the deglazed skillet and the lemon zest, a dash of salt, a few grinds black pepper and 1/2 of the greens and mix well.
Plate each dish starting with the couscous, the greens, a generous layer of the red pesto and the scallops, garnish with a few leaves of tarragon and….Enjoy!
We all have those cringe-worthy holiday family traditions - great Aunt Bethany’s jello molds at Christmas or being forced by your parents to wear lederhosen in family photos. Sometimes they are founded in fact or history, many times they remain shrouded in mystery…yet we still accept them. Why? Because it’s tradition! As children we sighed and stomped and tried to run away from them, not taking part because it was our moral obligation not to. But then we realized that we miss these silly rituals, we no longer live at home or no one makes the effort anymore because we are all adults…and soon you fear they may be forgotten. Of course some people may never even consider this, but being the nostalgic sucker that I am, I do. In fact I am the unrelenting family member encouraging a constant stream of new traditions; the few days before Christmas have become the felt decoration making time [well it happened one year]. Making cocktails with my sister and mother, any time we see each other – yes let’s turn that into tradition too!
So I guess I should get to the point. When I was a little girl, my sister and I would go with my mother to Stockholm in the summer. We were visiting her sister and would get to experience the awesomeness that is Midsummer, or Midsommar as they say. It happens all over Sweden on the third Friday of June, the eve of Midsummer’s Day…whole towns of towheads in traditional Folk dress, flowers in hair, jumping dancing running around a green leafy maypole, while singing in a language I still don’t know that well – never quite understanding what was going on, but wanting to be a part of the celebration, this is Midsummer to me. It is a celebration of light, of the longest, sunniest day of the year. For Swedes it is a magical day filled with wild flowers, aquavit, herring and fresh picked strawberries – a weekend long celebration really. But no, this was not really my tradition growing up, but it was my mother’s and so by proxy over the years I have taken it on. So when my good friend and fellow foodie said she wanted to have a summer solstice party – I said, Yes! Midsommar!
It happened and it was awesome. We sang Swedish drinking songs and sipped caraway flavored Aquavit, poked at Swedish meatballs with Swedish flag toothpicks. We ate pickled herring and snacked on knäckebrot with jarlsberg cheese. Why did everyone join me so wholeheartedly? Well, because it’s tradition.
Just a few links in case you're curious...
Swedish Midsummer Traditions
A Midsummer Night's Feast at The Tasting Table
Nordstjernan - Most popular Swedish Drinking Song
NYTimes 36 Hours in Stockholm
Stuff I follow...
Not Without Salt
My New Roots
Lady and Pups
A CUP OF JO
The Daily Meal
Melissa Clark ...always
3191 Miles Apart
The Nourished Kitchen