Melissa Clark’s One Dish Wonder

With only five ingredients, this dish delivers big-time in flavor.

On time-pressed weeknights, I like nothing better than a one-pot dinner that cooks up in mere minutes and leaves you soulfully satisfied far, far longer.

Melissa Clark’s “Sauteed Scallops with Tomatoes and Preserved Lemon” is such a dish.

It’s from her new cookbook, “Cook This Now” (Hyperion), of which I recently received a review copy. Its 120 recipes are arranged by season and month to take advantage of your local farmers market offerings. I’ve already got half the pages bookmarked, as these are wonderfully straightforward recipes that not only entice with their flavors but with their ease of preparation.

This particular recipe by the famed New York Times food writer has only five ingredients (not including salt and pepper), but tastes like so much more.

It’s basically just scallops sauteed with garlic, chopped tomato, preserved lemon and a knob of butter. The tomatoes accentuate the sweetness of the scallops, while the preserved lemon lends bursts of intense briny tang. The butter brings it all together, making the sauce rounder and a little luxurious.

You can buy preserved lemons in gourmet grocery stores. But it’s far better to make them, since they are a cinch to do. Just follow my easy directions for putting up a jar of them.

Serve the scallops with crusty bread, couscous or rice, if you like.

Then, do like I do and keep bags of frozen wild scallops from Trader Joe’s in your freezer. That way, you can make this dish any time. And believe me, you will want to make it again and again.

Sauteed Scallops with Tomatoes and Preserved Lemon

(Serves 2)

1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 pound sea scallops, patted dry

1 medium tomato, cored and chopped

1 tablespoon finely chopped or pureed preserved lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add scallops, tomato, lemon, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until scallops are just opaque, about 2 minutes. Season with additional salt, if needed, and pepper.

Note: Clark advises not to make the dish without preserved lemon, since nothing else can replicate its complex flavor. Shrimp can be substituted for the scallops, if you like. Chopped herbs such as chives, chervil, basil or mint also can be added.

From “Cook This Now” by Melissa Clark

Plus: How to Make Your Own Preserved Lemons

Another Melissa Clark Recipe: Manhattan Bay Scallop Chowder with Fennel

Another Scallop Recipe: Dorie Greenspan’s Scallops with Caramel-Orange Sauce

And: Ad Hoc’s Caramelized Sea Scallops

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