Curried Scallops with Acorn Squash

By Katherine

Since it's now mid-October, we are firmly in autumn - although you wouldn't know it living in San Diego (it's sunny and 78 today).  Nonetheless, I still feel the pull of seasonal eating, and I can't resist all of the winter squashes that are popping up at the grocery store.  I picked up an acorn squash on a whim the other day, and then set about to find something to do with it.  Here's what I came up with. . . . 

Curried Scallops with Acorn Squash

Adapted from Gourmet , serves 2

1 medium acorn squash

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 lb. sea scallops

1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 large garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup water

3/4 cup coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds, and season with salt and pepper.  Place the butter in a medium roasting pan, and put it in the oven while it is preheating.  Once the butter is melted, place the squash halves face down in the roasting pan, and roast until tender, about one hour. 

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Once squash has roasted for 30 minutes, begin preparing the scallops. Pat them dry and season with salt.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sear scallops on each side until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Set the scallops aside and toss with the turmeric.  

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In the same skillet, add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and cook the jalapeno, garlic, ginger, and lime juice for about one minute.  Add the water and cook until the mixture is softened and water is evaporated, about 4 minutes.  Add the coconut milk and garam masala and simmer for 2 minutes.  (Hopefully your squash is about done now; if not, you can pause here - just take the curry sauce off the heat.)

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When the squash is done, return the scallops to the skillet with the curry sauce and heat through.  Place each squash half on a plate, scoop the scallops and sauce into the hollowed-out part of the squash and garnish with cilantro. 

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Roasted Eggplant with Scallion Oil

By Katherine

Sean has been experimenting with a pseudo-Paleo diet , which is pretty much my worst nightmare, since it eliminates all grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, soy, and potatoes. What is left to eat?!  I've been trying to figure that out.  In trying to come up with something to make for dinner the other night, I remembered a recipe from a cookbook I hadn't cracked open in a while:  Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table, by Mai Pham.  Pham is the chef/owner at Lemon Grass Restaurant in Sacramento, a Hart family favorite.  I've had this book for a few years, and it really makes Vietnamese cooking accessible at home. Best of all, it introduces you to exciting flavor combinations that you can incorporate into your cooking generally, not just the recipes in the book.  Many of the recipes are very simple, and this eggplant recipe is one of them.  Here's what you'll need:  eggplant, scallions, Thai or serrano chiles, fish sauce, and vegetable oil. 

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Pham recommends using skinny, Asian eggplant, but I used regular, round ones with no problem.  You're aiming for about a pound of eggplant (my overgrown ones were about a pound and a half - no worries, this recipe is forgiving).  Roast the eggplants directly over a flame, either on your gas stovetop or on a grill.  Use tongs to rotate the eggplant - you want the outside to be evenly charred and the inside to be soft.  If you're using thin Asian eggplants, they will be done much more quickly than their fat cousins - about 5 minutes vs. about 20 that it took me this time around.  I also think that doing them on the burner is faster than on the grill, since the eggplants are closer to the flame. 

Before...

Before...

After! 

After! 

Allow the eggplant to cool, then peel the charred skin (and caps) off and discard.  Pham recommends doing this under cool running water, which is helpful if you haven't allowed quite enough time for cooling.  Then roughly chop the eggplant flesh (or just pull it apart if it is very soft) and reserve in a bowl.  Heat two tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and add 3-4 chopped scallions. They will hiss and foam a bit upon contact with the hot oil.  Stir, and let them carry on like that for about 20 seconds.  Then remove the pan from the heat and add two chopped chiles, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture over the eggplant and toss gently.  You can either serve it warm or at room temperature. 

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I served the eggplant alongside this simple marinated, grilled chicken breast recipe and a spinach salad.  

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It was a delicious dinner, and I didn't even notice that it was paleo-ish.*  

*As written, this recipe is not 100% paleo because I used canola oil, which is a no-no, and the brand of fish sauce that I used has some added sugar, also a no-no. Don't tell Sean. You could easily substitute more compliant ingredients.