A Main Course Salad Perfect for Hot Summer Nights

Summer Salad of Scallops, Tomaotes, and Chorizo 1 I returned home from Paris this week with some sound French cooking philosophy. Everyone cooks seasonally there, not only by choice, but often by necessity. Mounds of asparagus, green and white or plump and slim, appear in markets in mid-spring only to completely disappear later in the summer. Deep crimson and incredibly juicy strawberries pop up in June and are available for a few weeks. Even fish have their own cycle. Late last month when I innocently asked a Parisian fishmonger for scallops, he looked at me sternly and announced “C’est fini, Madame!

However, in New England the latter are in their prime right now. At a local grocery store fresh sea scallops from Cape Cod caught my eye while I was restocking my larder, so I bought a pound along with “native” (translation: homegrown) tomatoes and a bunch of arugula. I added a package of Spanish-style chorizo to my cart and had the makings for a delicious main course salad for our first night home.

This salad, which takes about thirty minutes to prep and assemble, is a mélange of vibrant colors and flavors. The slight acidic note from red and yellow cherry tomatoes marries beautifully with the sweetness of the shellfish and the saltiness of the sausage. Add a crusty baguette or a sourdough loaf, and pass a bowl of peaches and blueberries tossed in lemon or lime juice with a hint of sugar for dessert. Et voilà: a simple seasonal menu worthy of admiration from our friends across the Atlantic.

Summer Salad of Arugula with Sautéed Scallops, Chorizo, and Cherry Tomatoes

2 tablespoons sherry or red wine vinegar
1 1/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots

Salad 16 sea scallops (about 1 pound), with side muscles discarded
Scant 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 big pinches cayenne pepper
6 teaspoons olive oil plus more if needed
6 ounces Spanish-style chorizo cut into 1/4 inch dice (See note.)
12 each red and yellow cherry (or grape) tomatoes
7 to 8 cups baby arugula or a combination of tender mixed greens
Kosher salt, optional

1. Dressing: In a large, nonreactive bowl whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in 1/3 cup olive oil, and then stir in the shallots. (The dressing can be prepared one day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and whisk well before using.)

2. Salad: Halve the scallops horizontally and pat them dry. In a shallow bowl combine the scant 3/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, and cayenne, and season the scallops lightly on one side with this mixture.

3. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a medium, heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the chorizo, cooking and stirring, until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Then remove to drain on paper towels. Add the tomatoes, cooking and stirring, until their skins have just started to pucker, about 2 minutes, then remove and drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 3 teaspoons olive oil plus more if needed to coat the pan lightly. When hot, add the scallops, and cook until lightly browned, only 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side. Remove to drain on paper towels.

4. Toss the arugula in a large bowl with just enough of the dressing to coat lightly. If desired season with salt. Divide the salad evenly and mound on four dinner plates. Spoon some scallops, tomatoes, and chorizo over each serving. Serve immediately. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Serves 4.

Note: Spanish-style chorizo is a cooked, firm pork sausage in casing, while Mexican-style chorizo is uncooked and loose. I have used traditional Spanish-style chorizo and also Bruce Aidell’s chicken chorizo, both with delicious results in this recipe.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2013

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