Living on the Georgia coast, I’ve eaten my fair share of seafood. In fact, in my house, we eat mostly seafood and a good bit of chicken for its affordability and access. Weeknight dinners are often made with shrimp and pasta, or pan-seared white fish with sauteed vegetables, such as squash and zucchini. Not only is seafood delicious, but it’s so quick to cook and good for you. Not too heavy and just right for springtime.
I’ve recently started buying and cooking more with scallops too, and the other evening I made one dish that keeps calling my name: Baked Bay Scallops with Bread Crumbs. The dish is so easy because it all comes together in a 9 x 13 casserole dish. There’s no standing over the stove and waiting — you pop it in the oven and set the timer, and you’re free to get other things done while dinner cooks.
When it comes to scallops, there are sea scallops and bay scallops. Size is the most obvious difference when distinguishing the two; sea scallops are much larger than bay scallops — nearly three times the size. Bay scallops are sweeter, more tender and typically used in seafood stews and casseroles. They're only found on the east coast in bays and harbors.
When you can’t find fresh scallops, look for good quality frozen brands. The key is to make sure you pat them dry once thawed, to ensure they get a nice golden brown sear and so they are not watery when baked. Scallops are a rich and hearty meal that you don’t have to enhance too much to enjoy. They feel luxurious and make an impressive presentation on the plate.
In my recipe, the scallops cook in a nice lemon butter sauce, and are finished with fresh parsley from the garden. The “bread crumbs” are made from one of my favorite snack crackers — Italian herb crisps and mixed with melted butter. I serve the scallops over hot cooked grits, alongside some in-season asparagus and cherry tomatoes for a pop of color.
The asparagus roasts right alongside the scallops in the oven and the supper sides are ready at the same time.
This meal is the very definition of Some Kinda Good. I hope you enjoy! For more recipes like this one, pick up a copy of my best-selling memoir with recipes, available wherever books are sold.
Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is a private chef and the author of the best-selling memoir “Some Kinda Good.” Featured in Forbes, on Food Network and ABC, she writes about Southern, coastal cuisine, locally sourced and in-season.
Connect with her on social media by liking Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow @SKGFoodBlog on Instagram and Twitter. To learn more, visit RebekahLingenfelser.com.
Baked Bay Scallops with Bread Crumbs
Bay scallops, patted dry, 1 pound
Juice of half a lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Italian herb crackers, such as Townhouse Flatbread Crisps
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh parsley, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish with butter cooking spray. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels. Place the scallops in the casserole dish and season well on each side with salt and pepper. Squeeze half of the lemon juice over the top of the scallops evenly to coat.
In a food processor or blender, pulse the crackers with ¼ cup of melted butter, until they are a fine bread crumb consistency. Pour the bread crumbs evenly over the scallops. Dice four tablespoons of butter and dot the scallops with the butter.
Drizzle the scallops and bread crumbs with olive oil before placing in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes until bread crumbs begin to brown. Let cool slightly and top with fresh parsley. To serve with grits, cook grits separately (according to package directions), using beef broth in place of water.
Plate by spooning the grits onto a plate, and top with four scallops. Squeeze a splash of fresh lemon juice over the top just before serving.