The fabulous entrée tastes surprisingly complex for the short amount of time it takes to prepare. The scallops and leeks really do release flavor into the couscous, and the vinaigrette definitely completes the dish. It is a great “special occasion” meal that anyone who loves scallops is sure to remember.
Cooking the scallops on a bed of Israeli couscous, leeks, and white wine is easy and allows the pearls of pasta to absorb the scallops’ briny liquid. To ensure the scallops finish cooking at the same time as the rest of the dish, jump-start the leeks and couscous in the microwave, adding garlic and a pinch of saffron* to subtly perfume the dish.
Stir in wine and boiling water (with the blooming saffron, if using), which starts the dish off hot and shortens the cooking time. Using a very hot oven and sealing the pan with foil promises perfectly, and efficiently, cooked scallops that steam atop the couscous. A quick tarragon-orange vinaigrette to drizzle over the finished dish provides an appealing accent that complements the scallops and leeks without overpowering them.
It is recommend that you buy “dry” scallops, which don’t have chemical additives and taste better than “wet.” Dry scallops will look ivory or pinkish; wet scallops are bright white.
TIPS: For an accurate measurement of boiling water, bring a full kettle of water to a boil and then measure out the desired amount. *If using saffron threads, pulverize them in a mortar with pestle and then put them in the hot water to bloom.
One-Pan Baked Scallops with Couscous, Braised Leeks and Tarragon-Orange Vinaigrette
- 1 lb. leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced thin, and washed thoroughly
- 1 cup Israeli couscous
- 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch saffron threads (optional, *see above tip)
- ¾ cup boiling water
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1½ lbs. large sea scallops, tendons removed
- 2 Tbsp. minced fresh tarragon
- 1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
- ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp. grated orange zest plus 1 Tbsp. juice
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine leeks, couscous, 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and saffron (if using), in a bowl. Cover, and microwave, stirring occasionally, until leeks are softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in boiling water and wine, then transfer mixture to 13 by 9-inch baking dish.
- Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Nestle scallops into couscous mixture and cover dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until couscous is tender, sides of scallops are firm, and centers are opaque, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk remaining 3 tablespoons oil, tarragon, vinegar, mustard, orange zest and juice, and ⅛ teaspoon salt together in bowl.
- Remove dish from oven. Drizzle vinaigrette over scallops and serve, passing extra oil separately.
Adapted from a recipe by America’s Test Kitchen