The 20-Minute Meal That Will Impress Any Dinner Guest

September 14, 2014 · 0 comments


When I ditched Lean Cuisine pizza and Tasti-D-Lite dinners in favor of real food about five years ago, I was forced to start learning how to cook. At first it was just whole wheat pasta and broccoli, then it was omelettes, and then I learned about sweet potato fries and my life was changed forever. The truth is, I am not naturally a good cook. I have to follow a recipe and even then there is about a 70% chance that at least one component of the dish will turn out a bit burned, slightly undercooked or hmmm… missing a flavor I can’t quite put my finger on.

My husband on the other hand, is a fantastic cook. He doesn’t do it often, but when he does I seethe with jealousy as I watch him confidently dice, chop, season, grill, broil…you name it. He can taste any sauce and know exactly what it needs. Cumin, smoked paprika and…a bit more pepper. The man also makes his own quiche pie crust for crying out loud! Reason 2,9845 why life is unfair. But, my cooking skills have improved over the years, and now that I have (most) the basics down, my goal recently has been to come up with dishes that are good enough to serve to family and friends. This dish you’re looking at right here is one of them. I bought all of the ingredients at Trader Joe’s and it only took me about 20 minutes to prepare.

Oh, and it’s only six ingredients. I was skeptical about buying fish at Trader Joe’s, but I served the scallops to friends a few weeks ago and no one was the wiser. They loved it. OK, here’s the recipe…

Scallops with Cauliflower “Mash” and Grilled Zucchini
Serves: 2

-Package of wild caught scallops (3-4 per person – you will have leftovers)
-Package of cauliflower florets (or a head of cauliflower, chopped)
-2 Zucchini
-1 tbsp butter
-1 tsp olive oil
-Salt + pepper to taste

STEP 1: Take scallops out of fridge and put them on a paper towel. Pat them dry well on both sides and let them sit there while you prep other ingredients.

STEP 2: Put cauliflower florets in a pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes.

STEP 3: While the cauliflower is boiling, lightly coat a grill pan or skillet (whatever you have) with canola oil for your zucchini. Slice zucchini in rounds and toss with olive oil + salt and pepper in a bowl.

STEP 4: Turn grill pan on medium-high heat and let it warm up for a minute. Then add zucchini to the grill pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Next, season scallops well with salt and pepper on each side. Here are Chrissy Teigen’s tips on how to cook perfect scallops. (Supermodels who can cook? Make that reason 2,9846 why life is unfair.)

STEP 5: While the zucchini is cooking, transfer cauliflower to food processor and add 1/2 tbsp butter + salt and pepper. Blend until just smooth, but watch it because you don’t want it to get too thin and runny. This would also probably work in a blender. Leave that where it is for now.

STEP 6: If the zucchini is done, turn off the heat and let them hang out, too.  Everything should stay hot  because the scallops cook quickly. Add 1/2 tbsp butter to stainless steel pan with a little canola oil and turn heat on high. Add scallops to the pan and cook for just two minutes on each side.

STEP 7: Assemble ingredients on a plate. Devour. Ask your husband to do the dishes.

There are a few “moving parts” to the dish, but if I think it’s easy, trust me, it is. You’ll get the timing down as you go along and you can always make your own modifications based on your preferences.

And the next night, I made my friend Erin’s Sweet Corn Chowder and cooked the rest of the scallops and add them on top. The soup was delish, but I wasn’t paying attention to the portion sizes and ended up putting two servings in each bowl! Basically, we hate handfuls and handfuls of cashews for dinner. Ha – Oops!

Luke and I have also enjoyed this Smoky Roasted Red Pepper Soup several times recently. I serve it hot. In fact, Luke loves it so much that I make sure I always have the ingredients handy when I need to whip up a quick dinner. Recently I cooked asparagus on the grill pan and chopped them up and added them to the soup. So good! What’s not to love about a tasty 5-ingredient soup you make in a blender?

Well, I hope I have inspired you to get a little more creative in the kitchen. Cheers!

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