Sunday, December 1, 2013

Scallops, White Beans and Fennel

Just about any pasta dish can transform into a bean-based dish.  Seafood like scallops go so well with white beans and get a mild lift from fennel in this simple, pure dinner.

The pure foods bonus is that this is so effortless to pull together using canned beans and frozen scallops. Just as easy as a pasta night.  A few fresh ingredients-- fennel and spinach-- add sophistication with no additional fuss.  You can even use frozen spinach and replace the fennel with celery if the cupboard is bare and a trip to the grocery store is not in the cards before dinner has to get on the table.

This is a good recipe to hold onto when holiday errands get a little hectic and eating properly becomes an afterthought.

Scallops, White Bean and Fennel Ragout
Serves 4

1 pound frozen bay scallops
2 cans low sodium white beans, drained
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, divided
1 can chicken broth (low sodium)
2 bulbs fennel, sliced
1 8-ounce package fresh baby spinach (use 2 if your family loves spinach)
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Thaw scallops according to package directions. 
  2. Place drained beans in a large pot with chicken broth.  Heat beans over medium heat. When they begin to bubble, lower heat to a simmer while you prepare remaining ingredients. Do not cover beans.  
  3. Cook spinach and set aside.  If fresh,  microwave 2 minutes.  
  4. Slice fennel and saute in a wide skillet over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Salt and pepper vegetables to taste.  Add cooked fennel to beans.  
  5. In same skillet, quickly saute thawed scallops in remaining tablespoon butter or olive oil.  Add scallops to pot and turn off heat.  
  6. Stir in spinach or use as a giant garnish.  
Serve ragout in wide bowls.  This meal is very happy alongside a simple salad or a slice of crusty bread to wipe up the juices.

Options: Frozen or canned artichokes, peas, freshly steamed asparagus or wilted kale are all good additions to this simple repast.  Any of these vegetables can be roasted instead of sauteed.  In fact, this meal was made for leftover roasted veggies like fennel, onions, carrots, etc.