Scallops in Butter Sauce

scallopsMmmm… scallops — one of those dishes that seems so fancy and actually is incredibly easy. In many ways, we’re still celebrating the Alsace Festival, so I’ve been cooking up ways to enjoy more Anderson Valley wines.

While cooking scallops is incredibly easy, they’re definitely one of those things that you have to keep an eye on. Leave a scallop on the heat for an extra 30 seconds, and your dinner can go from succulent to kind-of tough just like that. *snaps fingers* We paired our dish with Handley Cellars 2011 Estate Chardonnay. The sauce brought out creamy, butter flavors in the wine, and the lemony flavors of the Chard brightened the scallops. It was one of those combos where each made for a greater whole, taking both food and wine to new flavor heights. The 2011 is no longer available, but the next vintage is.

Seared Scallops with Herb Butter Sauce

serves 2
1 pound scallops
1 lemon
2 TB butter
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
a pinch of Herbes de Provence

Warm up a skillet over high heat. (Make sure to turn your range hood on high, too.)

While the skillet is heating, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a small pan with the zest from the lemon, the herbs, and a little salt and pepper. Pour in a couple of tablespoons of the wine you’ll be serving with dinner. Stir together and strain if you want a bit-free sauce. Put aside.

Rinse scallops and pat dry. Pour olive oil on skillet, followed by the butter. The butter should melt right away. Set scallops on skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from half of the lemon over the top. Cook for one and a half minutes and flip. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the scallops and cook for another one and a half minutes.

Place on plates and drizzle with the butter sauce. Serve right away.

Acorn Squash Lasagna

acorn squashRemember last week when I waxed poetic on winter squash? Well, today I’m going to share a recipe, a pairing, and an amazing tip that I received from my friends Joey and Bill.

The dinner party that Charles and I had attended at the aforementioned friends’ house had winded down. As we shared a bit of dessert and finished our wine, they shared with us their secret to cooking winter squash — the slow cooker. It’s easy, Bill told us, you just poke the squash with a fork a few times, stick it in the cooker — no water needed — turn it on low, and let it go.

Of course, I had to try it myself. I washed off an acorn squash, (it still had some farm dirt on it,) poked some holes in it with a fork, and stuck it in the slow cooker before I left for work. When I got home that afternoon, the house smelled heavenly, and the squash was cooked perfectly. So easy! Thanks to Joey and Bill’s tip, winter squash will now be a main ingredient in many a dinner in the months ahead.

My now cooked squash became the star of the evening meal, Acorn Squash Lasagna — one of my all-time favorite dishes. I’ve played with the recipe a few times over the years, tweaking it until I was perfectly happy with it. It’s savory and just a wee bit sweet and filling enough that a square will do you for your dinner requirements.

winePairing this lasagna has always been more of a challenge than cooking it, as the squash flavors and cheese flavors don’t always complement a wine well, but I finally found something that works wonderfully. It’s Ventana‘s Chardonnay, a wine that Charles had brought into the store on a vendor’s recommendation. He had brought home the last two bottles the week before. A side note — the psychology of shoppers is often interesting. Did you know that customers are uncomfortable with purchasing the last item on the shelf? Especially with wine and beer, that last bottle will just stand lonely on the shelf while people pass it by. Because of this, Charles often purchases the final hold-outs of wine vintages and seasonal beers. It works for us, as Charles stocks his shelves with excellent options, and our cellar becomes more and more diverse. But back to this particular pairing … the Ventana paired well, its creaminess rounding out the lasagna. Nutmeg characteristics in the glass were the perfect, seasonal accompaniment with the squash. The pairing just screams, “Autumn!”

Acorn Squash Lasagna

serves two

1 acorn squash, cooked, seeds and skin removed
1/4 teaspoon dried, rubbed sage
salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces goat ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
4 gluten-free lasagna noodles (I used Tinkyada Rice Lasagna)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Cook lasagna noodles to package directions. I broke mine in half to fit the baking dish nicely.
Rub butter along the insides of a square baking dish.
Mix squash with sage, salt and pepper.
Mix ricotta with egg.
Place two lasagna pieces in the bottom of the dish. Spread with half of the squash.
Place two lasagna pieces on top, and spread with half of the ricotta mixture.
Repeat the lasagna-squash step, then the lasagna-ricotta step.
Sprinkle the top of your creation with the Parmesan, cover the dish with foil, and cook for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for 20 more minutes.

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