Scallops are the perfect summertime food — light yet filling, flavorful but versatile enough to pair with all sorts of foods. In this case, with salad.
For this recipe, I dip the scallops in flour before they're sauteed to give them a little crunch. If you can find Wondra flour at the supermarket, grab it on sight and keep it in the cupboard for recipes like this. It is a low-protein flour that has been treated (precooked) so it dissolves instantly in water without lumping up. The side benefit of Wondra is that it provides a nice little crunch you wouldn't get if you coated your scallops with all-purpose flour.
This salad sports my version of the carrot-ginger dressing that's standard at Japanese restaurants, which I've always found to be a delicious and refreshing change from oil and vinegar. As advertised, it's based on raw carrot, then flavored with fresh ginger and toasted sesame oil. My version also features a little hot sauce, which I like as a way to counterbalance the natural sweetness of the carrot.
This recipe yields a big batch of the dressing, about 1¼ cups, which is more than you'll need for the salad. However, it'll last for several days, and is easily repurposed. If you don't have seasoned rice vinegar in the cupboard, just use plain rice vinegar and add a hefty pinch of sugar and a little salt to the dressing.
One note about the sesame oil: Be sure to store it in your refrigerator, along with all other nut and seed oils and all nuts and seeds. These items go rancid quickly.
I round out this salad with a couple of other welcome summertime ingredients: cucumbers and mango. The greens are arugula, which I tend to favor in all seasons because of its peppery bite. Of course, spinach would be perfect here, as would any of your favorite greens. Just keep in mind that, in general, the darker the green, the more nutritious it is.
Finally, if you're not a fan of scallops, you can always swap in shrimp, chicken, pork or even tofu. Consider this recipe a template for dozens of variations.
Warm Scallop Salad with Carrot-Ginger Dressing Start to finish 40 minutes; serves 4 1 cup chopped carrot 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger 4 scallions, sliced, white and green parts kept separate 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce 2 to 4 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce (or your favorite hot sauce) 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided ¼ cup water 1 pound sea scallops, tough muscle discarded and scallops patted dry Kosher salt and ground black pepper 1/2 cup Wondra flour (or all-purpose) 6 cups arugula 2 cups chopped cucumber 1 mango (or 2 peaches or nectarines), peeled, pitted and chopped 1/2 cup toasted peanuts In a blender, combine the carrot, ginger, white parts of the scallions, rice vinegar, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, ¼ cup of the vegetable oil and the water. Puree until very smooth. Set aside. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper, dip them lightly in the flour, coating them on both sides and shaking off the excess, then add them to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the scallops until they are just cooked through, about 2 to 4 minutes per side (depending on the size of the scallops). Divide the arugula, cucumbers and mango among 4 salad bowls. Top the salads with the scallops, scallion greens and peanuts, then drizzle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the dressing over each salad. Serve right away. Nutrition information per serving of salad (without dressing): 330 calories; 130 calories from fat (39 percent of total calories); 14 grams fat (1 gram saturated; 0 gra,s trans fats); 35 milligrams cholesterol; 29 grams carbohydrate; 3 grams fiber; 10 grams sugar; 27 grams protein; 510 milligrams sodium. Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons of dressing: 70 calories; 60 calories from fat (86 percent of total calories); 6 grams fat (0.5 grams saturated; 0 grams trans fats); 0 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams carbohydrate; 1 gram fiber; 2 grams sugar; 0 grams protein; 140 milligrams sodium.