Monday, November 19, 2007

Recipe: Pan-Fried Scallops with Caramelized Onions and Spinach (Χτένια με Σπανάκι Σύβραση)

Long, slow cooking renders onions sweet and tender.

The French use them in soups and savory tarts, and Middle Easterners use them in Majderah to top lentils and rice, as do Greeks living throughout the Dodecanese Islands. On Rhodes, one of the Dodecanese, caramelized onions are called Sivrasi, and are used to enhance a variety of vegetables, not just lentils.

I first read about Sivrasi in Susie Atsaides book: Greek Generations: A Medley of Ethnic Recipes, Folklore, and Village Traditions. She calls Sivrasi “an island secret,” and her recipe calls for a whopping one cup of oil for every two cups of onions. Diane Kochilas includes a recipe for Sivrasi in The Glorious Foods of Greece, and says it is served “over pasta, flour-based creams, greens, legumes, and even cheese pies.” Internet recipes include Sivrasi with meatballs and with fish and tomato sauce, as well as over lentils and rice.

Fresh scallops from Kodiak, Alaska were in the market this week, and I had a gorgeous bunch of spinach from my Full Circle Farm CSA box. Caramelized onions go well with both, and it was long past time I tried Sivrasi.

The result was splendid. The sweet, caramelized onions, the earthy spinach, the nicely browned scallops, and their rich, salty juices, all combined to form a dish I will make over and over again.

Pan-Fried Scallops with Caramelized Onions is fast, easy, and worthy of being served to the most discerning diners. There’s not much more you can ask of a recipe.

Recipe: Pan-Fried Scallops with Caramelized Onions and Spinach (Χτένια με Σπανάκι Σύβραση)
Serves 2
This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled, and the caramelized onions made well in advance, for a painless company meal. Although scallops are used here, spinach and caramelized onions go well with any kind of seafood or poultry.

Spinach Sivrasi:
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper, or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/2 pound cleaned spinach, roughly chopped

10 large sea scallops (about 1 pound)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the Spinach Sivrasi: Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions, lightly seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook over medium low heat for 25 - 35 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions soften and caramelize. Halfway through the cooking time, add the Aleppo pepper.

As soon as the scallops are in the frying pan, stir the spinach into the caramelized onions and cook just until the spinach is done, stirring regularly. Serve surrounded by Pan-Fried Scallops.

For the scallops: Wash the scallops, removing any tough muscle clinging to the side of the scallop. Dry and season them on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the olive oil over high heat in a frying pan large enough to hold the scallops. If you are serving more than two people, you may need to use two frying pans for this task; scallops too close together in a pan will steam rather than pan-fry.

When the oil is very hot, add the seasoned scallops, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. Turn the scallops over and cook for 2 – 3 minutes more. Except for turning them over the one time, do not move the scallops or fidget with them while they cook. Serve with the Spinach Sivrasi.

UPDATE: 1/09/08: Playswithfood made and enjoyed this dish, and posted a lovely picture of it here.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging #110, this week hosted by Truffle from What's On My Plate. Truffle's round-up of all WHB#110 can be found here.


Peter M said...

Laurie, the scallops are perfectly seared and the dish is very Greek in nature, good show!

Anonymous said...

Wow, wow, wow! I do love your recipes!

Michelle said...

Mmm...I think caramelized onions are definitely a favorite topping of my own! Those scallops look absolutely beautiful!

Laurie Constantino said...

Peter, Ann, and Michelle, thank you all for your very kind words! As you all know, feedback helps. Thanks again!

Truffle said...

I adore scallops. Sounds delicious! Thanks for contributing. The roundup should be posted on monday.

Lucy said...

Laurie, this is incredibly beautiful on the plate as well.

We have access to wonderful, sweet scallops here and this is stunning. I'm pleased you managed to reduce the oil content of those golden onions without losing any flavour!

Kalyn Denny said...

Aleppo pepper, scallops, and carmelized onions. What a great combination.

Laurie Constantino said...

Truffle, you did a great job on the round-up!

Thanks, Lucy. I probably could have cut down the oil even more, but it sure was good the way I made it. I've read so much about Australian seafood -- you're lucky to have access to it.

Kalyn, and with both Aleppo pepper and caramelized onion, how could anything taste bad???

Anonymous said...

This is fantastic! I made it for dinner tonight. Thank you for sharing.

Anne said...

Hi Laurie! I've moved my blog. Here's the new link for the photo of your wonderful Scallop dish!

Hope all is going well.