Sunday, July 6, 2014

Pop Goes Summer

It's summertime and the living is easy, right? Umm, apparently I didn't get that memo this year. Frankly, I'm still in a state of shock that we just celebrated America's birthday—again. Didn't we just do that, like, 3 months ago? I love this holiday but just can't believe we've already blown through half the year!

If I'm being honest, it doesn't really feel like summer to me. I'm in San Francisco this year so Summer has her own ideas about when and how to show herself—and let's just say she's being quite coy if not downright AWOL. I'm not totally surprised. I mean I was warned but you kind of just nod your head as a courtesy, saying to yourself, "They can't really mean that I should bring my down puffer jacket with me to a daytime outdoor concert in mid-June, right?" Yes, they actually do.

I've also been traveling a ton and haven't had much downtime so it just doesn't feel like summer to me. Where is the sand between my toes, my sunburned nose, the slower pace? Please know that I'm not complaining. It just feels like sometimes we're running so fast we don't stop and enjoy the small moments we're given. I made a commitment to fix that upon my return to my own bed after a 12-day stint. Thankfully Summer cooperated and I had the most lovely leisurely, sunny stroll through the Ferry Building's farmers market on Saturday with my new friend Marisa (thank you, Val and David, for the introduction!). We decided to select a few items from the market and make a picnic lunch of it. So many amazing things: juicy, ripe peaches; a zingy eggplant hummus with fresh falafel; rotisserie crack, I mean, chicken; and some fresh shucked Sweet Water oysters. It was kind of ridiculous actually and definitely made me pause and enjoy the simple pleasure of each bite and the sunshine on my face and the sea air I was breathing. And for the first time, it actually felt like summer to me.

While at the market, I picked up a pint of organic grape tomatoes that looked like candy and made a commitment to make dinner with them on Sunday. I've been on the road eating and drinking excessively and it was just a long holiday weekend (which was not a dry one), so figured my body was more than overdue for some healthy nourishment. But I also wanted something quick and tasty. Food has to taste good to me. I can't suck down a wheatgrass juice shot if you promised it would rid me of cancer forever. But I've learned that really good, really delicious food can be fast and healthy. This is one of those dishes. And honestly perfect for summer.

Just sear some sea scallops, char some cherry tomatoes until they burst, and then finish the dish with some white wine vinegar, fresh tarragon and toasted hazelnuts (or leave the hazelnuts out if you forgot to add them like me). The dish literally comes together in minutes and with every bite, pop goes summer! 

Hello, Summer! I'm looking forward to hanging out more with you!  

Scallops with Hazelnuts and Warm Tomatoes
from Bon Appetit

1/4 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts 
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 lbs of large sea scallops, side muscle removed, patted dry 
1 pint sun gold or grape tomatoes
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil; season with salt and pepper. 
2. Place sea scallops on a few paper towels and pat dry. This is important so don't skip! Otherwise your scallops will release a bunch of liquid when they cook—not good. 
3. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a large cast iron or probably better yet a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper and cook until golden brown (and release from the pan) and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. 
4. Pour off most liquid in skillet. Add tomatoes and shallots, season with salt and pepper, and cook tossing until some tomatoes have burst, about 4 minutes. Mix in vinegar and serve with scallops topped with tarragon and hazelnuts. 
Serves 4

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