Scallops With White Wine & Garlic / Mango, Avocado & Butter Lettuce Salad

I’m very much a creature of habit when it comes to weeknight meals: I have a stable of standards that I rotate through on pretty much a weekly basis, but very rarely have the time and/or inclination to come up with something totally new to try out, mostly because that requires the employment of brain cells and energy that seem to have flown the coop in recent weeks.

And I feel kind of bad about that.

Because while I think that my staple meals are pretty good and don’t personally require a ton of variety in my diet (I’m one of those people who will eat the same breakfast cereal every day for a year)…I know that Kendrick likes it when I try something different. It’s so fun to present him with a brand-new creation: he totally lights up (because he knows it makes me happy) and always declares that it’s his New! Favorite! Dish! (also, I suspect, because he knows it makes me happy).

And so here’s what I do when I want to try something new but don’t want to spend forever getting all imaginative and/or rifling through cookbooks, putting together a menu, shopping for tons of ingredients that aren’t already in my cupboards, and figuring out how to cook something I’ve never even touched upon before:

I play the “What’s About To Go Bad In My Refrigerator Game.”

And then I take those three or four ingredients, do a minute of free associating to come up with how they might work together with the addition of one or two more items…and then type those key words into Google to see if anything strikes my fancy.

When I checked out my refrigerator around 5:30 last night, I discovered that the following items were in attendance and looked quite delicious, but were most certainly on the downhill slope and wouldn’t be any good within a day or two: 1 mango, 1 avocado, 1 head of butter lettuce, 1 box fresh spinach linguine

A little what-would-be-good-with-this free-association led me to: Scallops!

And a little Googling showed me that (as I’d already suspected) a white wine and garlic sauce would be the way to go. Google wanted me to add scallions. But I forgot to get those when I went to the supermarket.

Anyway: one quick trip to the supermarket for parsley and scallops, a stop at the wine store for a bottle of white, and dinner was ready twenty minutes after I stepped through the door.

MANGO, AVOCADO & BUTTER LETTUCE SALAD (Inspired by The Daily Julie)

What you need:

1 head of butter lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 ripe mango, diced

1 avocado, diced

Fresh lemon juice

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

What you do:

Just toss everything together in a large bowl. Maybe throw in a little goat cheese, if you have it.

SEA SCALLOPS WITH WHITE WINE & GARLIC OVER SPINACH LINGUINE (serves 2)

What you need:

1 box fresh linguine

1/2 lb sea scallops

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

About 1/2 cup white wine

Fresh lemon juice

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

3 tbsp butter

1 handful parsley, chopped

What you do:

1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.

2. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saute pan, add the garlic, and cook for a minute or two. Add the white wine and a splash of lemon juice, and allow to reduce slightly.

3. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions (fresh pasta should only take a couple of minutes).

4. Add the scallops to the saute pan and cook for about a minute, then turn and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side, until just cooked through (be careful not to overcook them, or they’ll be tough). (Note: you could also sear them first for that pretty caramelized color, but I’m a newbie to scallop-cooking, and totally forgot. Still good!)

5. Drain the pasta, leaving a bit of pasta water in there to loosen it up, and toss in the scallops with white wine and garlic sauce, butter, and parsley. Add salt & pepper to taste.

Aunt Jo’s Watermelon Salad

Watermelon salad is one of my favorite dishes to make all summer long. Mix cubed watermelon with basil, mint, tomatoes, mozzarella, feta, goat cheese…it’s all good. Just do me a favor and remember to add that sprinkling of salt at the end - it may sound weird to add salt to melon, but it really brightens up the flavor a lot. 

AUNT JO’S WATERMELON SALAD (sorry for the sorta lame photo - I had a baby in one hand and an autofocus camera in the other.)

In a large bowl, toss together cubed fresh watermelon, halved Bocconcini mozzarella (little mozzarella balls; get the good-quality stuff that comes packed in water), a handful of chiffonaded mint (click here to learn how to chiffonade), and a sprinkling of good-quality sea salt.

Watermelon, Tomato & Basil Salad

Lemonade Spritzers garnished with watermelon wedges

Watermelon & Gin Iceblocks