scallops with balsamic reduction & wilted spinach

even though today was 90% work & 10% play, i still had the best day. how can you not when the sun is shining & it’s sweater-only weather on a january day in wisconsin? when i started to get fidgety & unfocused in the middle of the day, i took the pup for the longest walk she’s seen since fall. she got super muddy & basically needed a hose-down afterward, but it was definitely worth it to see that spring in her step again! i, too, was happy to get a breath of fresh air & clear my mind for awhile.

after collapsing on the couch following my first run in months, which occurred well after dark due to the sheer number of things i had to get done beforehand, i decided i needed a fast, but decadent dinner. out came the bay scallops from the freezer, which i soaked in milk for a half hour while i did the mountain of dishes accumulating in my sink. i haven’t been allowed to use the sink this week since i discovered a leak that caused the entire bottom of one of my two (!) kitchen cabinets to rot. thanks to drawer liner, i didn’t notice this catastrophe until i ventured into a back corner of the cabinet to retrieve a wooden cutting board i hadn’t used in ages only to find that it was wet & rotting & smelling of ass. oh, the joys of renting! if that didn’t whet your appetite, i’m not sure what will…

ingredients:
-3/4 cup of high quality balsamic vinegar
-1 tbsp olive oil
-1/2 a small red onion, very thinly sliced
-8 cups spinach***
-salt & pepper to taste
-1/2 cup dried cranberries
-1 lb bay scallops, fresh or frozen****

directions:
1) in a small saucepan, simmer balsamic vinegar on low until it reduces by 2/3 & takes on a syrup-like consistency. this should take about 30 minutes. be careful not to let it burn.
2) meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil.
3) add sliced onions & season with salt & pepper to taste. cook onions until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
4) add spinach & stir well. add more olive oil if necessary. when spinach is wilted, transfer contents of the pan to a serving dish. sprinkle the cranberries on top & keep everything warm (i did this by turning my oven to the lowest heat setting) while you prepare the scallops.
5) increase heat beneath the large saucepan to medium-high & add scallops, seasoning with salt & pepper to taste.
6) sear scallops for a few minutes (it took me 4-5 per side) on each side, flipping when the side in contact with the pan turns a deep brown color & is slightly crispy. try not to move the scallops too much or you will prevent them from searing. the scallops will be opaque & firm (but not too firm!) when they are finished.
7) spoon the scallops over the vegetables & drizzle with the balsamic reduction. enjoy :)

*makes 6-8 servings.
**serving tip: these would go great with a side of garlic-herb mashed potatoes. & if you’re a meathead, you could cook bits of bacon while you cook the onion, leaving some in with the vegetables & adding some to the mashed potatoes.
***i know this sounds like a lot, but i quartered this recipe to make a 1-serving version & in the pictures above that measly-looking amount of spinach is actually 2 cups worth!
****if your scallops are frozen, put them under cold, running water for about 5 minutes to thaw, or if you have more time (or while you’re doing steps 1-4) just soak them in cold water or milk.  if they are fresh, soak them in milk anyway, it helps to keep them from drying out while cooking.

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About Christina

Milwaukee-based bon vivant. Lover of food, yoga, design, good words & loving kindness.
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