Welcome to the dog days of summer. It is HOT outside, and not too pleasant in the house at midday either. You know, midday, say 2:00 to 5:00 or so, the hottest, stickiest part of the day – and the time when you have to start planning dinner.
I dreamed up this recipe on one of the first really scorching days of the year. My system wasn’t ready for the heat, so my appetite was low. I wanted flavors that were simple and clean, bright and a little sweet, with enough textural contrast to really be interesting. I wanted simple and, most of all, I wanted fast. This was no time to be boiling anything.
So I found three ingredients that need little if any cooking, and I combined them simply. And what I wound up with was perfect. Sweet and bright and clean, yes, with each ingredient lending its distinct flavor without overwhelming the others. The textural interplay of meltingly meaty scallop, rich creamy avocado, and delicately crisp fresh corn woke up our sluggish appetites despite the heat.
The recipe takes very little time – 10 minutes, 20 at most – and requires less than 5 minutes of actual application of heat. The hardest part is cutting the corn off the ear, a slightly annoying but not onerous job. This would be great spiced up a little with some finely diced jalapeno. Add to the skillet right before the scallops. Or you could bulk it up and change the feel by serving it over arugula or mesclun. It should double easily, though you might need to cook the scallops a minute or two more, as the pan will cool more if you add more scallops.
And remember, this is a salad, so there’s no big rush to get it to the table piping hot – another advantage on a lazy summer evening.
Warm Scallop, Sweet Corn, and Avocado Salad
Serves 2 for dinner, 4-6 as a starter Time: 15 minutes
6 ounces bay scallops
1 ear fresh sweet corn, shucked and rinsed
1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lime, or to taste
Salt and pepper
1/2 lime, quartered
Small handful cilantro, optional garnish
Cut any particularly large scallops in half. (You can also use sea scallops, cut in quarters or eighths depending on size.) Set aside.
Cut the kernels from the corn. I do this with the cob held perpendicular to the counter, in a pie plate to keep the kernels from flying everywhere, though some always escape anyway. Set aside.
Peel and cube the avocado. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. (Make sure all your ingredients are within reach, because this part goes fast.) When the oil is hot, add the scallops. Cook, stirring often, for about 2 minutes, until the scallops turn opaque on the outsides. Add the corn and turn off the heat. Stir for another 30 seconds. The scallops should be cooked medium-rare and the corn just warm. Stir in the avocado, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste; spoon immediately into two serving bowls. Garnish with the lime wedges and optional cilantro.