This year I have focused on creating or adapting recipes that meet three criteria: 1) they must pack a lot flavor, the more intense the better; 2) they must be adaptable to a low carb or keto diet; and 3) they must be quick to prepare. I have been tempted to do more braises and more complicated dishes, but life is quite busy these days and food prep has to be quick and easy. These low carb seared scallops met all of the criteria in spades!
I just got back from a visit to my daughter in Denver where we had the most wonderful Pho dishes (Vietnamese noodle soups with a complex broth, fresh herbs and meat or tofu). A traditional Pho broth takes 2-3 days of long simmering, and I am anxious to try it out this winter, but for now, I’m still in the quick and easy mode. ** note, I did try out the Pho later and you can see that recipe here.
The richness of large buttery scallops can actually be a welcome dish in either the spring or the winter. When we were in Spain, my husband got hooked on creamed spinach dishes, so when I saw a recipe using both low carb seared scallops and creamed spinach in Fine Cooking magazine, I knew it would be a winner for us.
The cream in the spinach does not follow a strict slow carb regimen, but it is fine on low carb or ketogenic lifestyles. I was initially very strict with a slow carb the diet but have since moved to a more nuanced combination of low carb, slow carb and keto. Ferriss always tells you to experiment and this nuanced approach has worked for me for years now, as well as many of my clients.
I primarily eat protein, fat and vegetables and exclude high carb foods. Cheat days are spaced further apart, as the need for them once a week diminished. I now look forward to mini-vacations every 3 months where I cheat for several days away from home and with different cuisines. I usually gain 2-3 pounds on these mini-vacations, but it only takes a week (sometimes two) of clean eating to get back to pre-vacation weight. I feel great and I like being able to fit into the clothes that are my style (bought a pair of jeans when I was in Denver that are giving me many happy smiles).
Recipe for Low Carb Seared Scallops with Creamed Spinach
(modified from this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine)
- 12-16 large sea scallops
- 3 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
- 12 oz. fresh spinach (about 12 loosely packed cups)
- 1 cup chopped onion (Fine Cooking used leeks)
- pinch of salt
- 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated or shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
- 4-5 tsp olive oil
Drain the scallops, pat them as dry as you can with paper towels and set them aside to dry out further.
- Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add about half of the spinach and saute until wilted, tossing occasionally with a fork or tongs (2-3 minutes). When the first batch of spinach is wilted, transfer it to a sieve or colander placed over a bowl and let it drain. Repeat with the second half of the spinach.
- Wipe the skillet out with a paper towel and melt the remaining 2 Tbsp butter in the skillet. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute until translucent and golden (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook about 1 minutes, being careful not to burn it.
- Add wine to deglaze the skillet and cook over med-high until almost evaporated (about 2-3 minutes). Add cream and simmer until thickened (about 2 minutes). Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Fold in the cheese and the spinach, cover and keep warm.
- Pat the scallops dry again with paper towels, getting them as dry as you can to take a good sear. Season them with salt and pepper (sometimes I might add a spice to this seasoning, like ground fennel or smoked paprika).
- In a clean, large skillet,heat 2-3 tsp of oil over high heat until shimmering hot. Place half of the scallops in the skillet, starting with the 6:00 position and moving clockwise around the skillet. Cook them, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom (resist the temptation to pick them up and look or move them, they will come away from the pan easily once they are seared). Flip them (after about 2-3 minutes) and continue to cook about 2 minutes longer. Repeat with remaining 2 tsp oil and scallops.
- Serve over the spinach and enjoy.
I buy my scallops from Sam’s Club and they are frozen and are quite wet when thawed. If you use dry scallops you don’t have to be so careful in patting them dry. The key to a good sear is dry scallops, high heat and not moving them around until the sear is accomplished.
For another wonderful recipe using low carb seared scallops click on this link to Scallops and Grapefruit Butter.