Dinner Tonight: Seared Scallops and Couscous with Roasted Fennel

Inspiration for tonight's dinner: sweet and briny scallops sing a springy song in a tarragon cream sauce, while earthy roasted fennel and crunchy almonds dress up a million baubles of couscous. Surprise surprise -- a quick, week night meal doesn't have to be same old same old after all. We've got it all planned out for you, just glance and execute!

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The Menu

Seared Scallops with Spring Onion and Tarragon Cream by lastnightsdinner

1 pound wild dry sea scallops
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk
Kosher or sea salt
1 bunch spring onions, about ½ lb.
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
fresh chives for garnish

1. Place the scallops on a plate or platter and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

2. Trim the spring onions, separating the green tops from the small bulbs. Dice the bulbs and roughly chop the greens.

3.Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped spring onion bulbs and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook 20-25 minutes, until very soft. Add the green tops, toss through, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until soft but still bright green. Sprinkle the flour over and cook for a minute or two, just until the raw flour smell is gone. Add the milk, raising the heat to medium, and cook briefly until thickened. Add the tarragon leaves and stir through, then turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a blender. Puree until very smooth, then return to the pan over low heat, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4. Pour a thin film of grapeseed oil in the bottom of a sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat until shimmering. Carefully add the scallops a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan, and sear them just couple of minutes per side until they are nicely browned and caramelized - they should release from the pan easily once they're ready, and they should still be a little jiggly in the middle, as they will continue to cook off the heat. Set aside and keep warm.

5.Taste the sauce and adjust salt if necessary. Whisk in the crème fraiche off the heat until the mixture is smooth, then spoon a little of the sauce into the bottom of shallow, warmed bowls, place scallops on top, and garnish with fresh chives.

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Couscous with Roasted Fennel and Toasted Almonds

Get the recipe.

Grocery List

1 lb wild dry sea scallops

1 bunch spring onions

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

Crème fraîche

1 orange

1 fennel bulb

2 tablespoons fennel fronds

1 cup couscous

We're assuming you have shallots, chicken stock, salt, pepper, milk, butter, oil, almonds, raisins, and vinegar around the house. If not, you'll be needing those too!

The Plan

1. Start the raisins soaking in the OJ (no need to do the entire 1-2 hours called for, just give it as much time as your evening plans allow). Get the scallops in the fridge for their little air-dry time (30 minutes).

2. Roast the fennel bulbs and toast the almonds while bringing a pot of chicken stock to a boil. Toss in the couscous.

3. While the couscous rests, tackle those scallops, sauce and all!

4. Dress the couscous and plate the scallops. It's all coming together beautifully. Super hot is not something that these dishes need to be -- so no need to panic.

Easy does it, and dinner is served! Tuck in!

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