Looking back over the last few Valentine’s Day columns, I realize that I often seem to feature scallops in one preparation or other for this romantic meal. They lend themselves naturally to a dinner a deux because at their current price, scallops are definitely special occasion food, and the amount needed for two people won’t break the bank – plus their richness somehow puts them in a different category from everyday food.
Lately, I’ve been using this new (to me) cooking method, whereby they get brushed with mayonnaise (rich with oil and egg, so it’s got all the right elements), dredged in crunchy panko crumbs, and roasted at a high heat. A lemony butter sauce spiked with Sriracha gets drizzled over the top.
Serve the scallops with a rice or orzo pilaf (a recipe should be in your favorite cookbook), and yummy pureed broccoli.
Be sure to give the oven a good preheating. The scallops need the blast of heat to develop a nicely browned and crunchy crust.
10 to 12 sea scallops
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup panko crumbs
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil for baking sheet
3 tablespoons butter
Juice from half a lemon
1 teaspoon Sriracha or other similar red pepper sauce
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Remove side hinges from the scallops. Place the mayonnaise in a bowl, and combine the crumbs and black pepper on a plate.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and brush with oil. Brush each scallop on all sides with the mayonnaise and roll in the crumbs to coat thoroughly. Arrange on the prepared baking sheet, placing larger scallops on the outer edges and smaller ones in the center.
Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, or until scallops are firm to the touch. If not brown enough, change the oven setting to broil and run under the broiler for 10 to 30 seconds to brown.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small saucepan, and stir in lemon juice and hot pepper sauce.
Serve scallops drizzled with the sauce.
It’s so simple (and has the benefit of being able to be made ahead), yet pureeing broccoli (or many other vegetables) somehow elevates it into a more exceptional realm.
1 pound broccoli crowns
2 tablespoons butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
Trim off any very tough bottom stems and steam or boil the broccoli over or in salted water until tender, 4 to 7 minutes. Drain well.
Pulse the broccoli in a food processor until coarsely chopped, add the butter and process to make a smooth puree.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a grating of fresh nutmeg. (May be prepared up to an hour or two ahead; reheat in a microwave.)
Brooke Dojny is author or co-author of more than a dozen cookbooks, most recently “Lobster!” (Storey, 2012). She lives on the Blue Hill peninsula, and can be contacted via Facebook at