Melissa’s Recipe Challenge

Melissa asked me to come up with a meal based on five ingredients chose by a local chef. She took the challenge as well, so check out her entry on her site. The ingredients were chosen by Gillian Clark, who went with:

cheddar cheese
bay scallops

Now, to me, those ingredients scream Southern cooking – cheesy grits, maybe some mashed parsnips… So naturally, I went with tapas.

Kidding aside, Southern cuisine’s not really in my comfort zone, and many of these ingredients I haven’t worked with before, so I figured I’d only get so ambitious. I tried to think of the last time I really enjoyed bay scallops – I remembered some delicious fried ones at a Pittsburgh tapas restaurant with some kind of dipping sauce. I even reached out to their chef to jog my memory, but we never ended up connecting. From there, I built a tapas-style dinner (if not a strictly Spanish one) with the remaining ingredients.

My meal: Cornmeal-encrusted fried bay scallops with two sauces; bay scallop ceviche with plantain chip and avocado; sauteed spinach with cheddar and blood orange dressing; potato and parsnip tortilla


Cornmeal encrusted bay scallops*

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour

1 cup buttermilk

bay scallops (approx 6 oz)

pimenton, to taste

salt, to taste

neutral oil for frying

Preheat oil in deep fryer to 375 degrees.

While your oil is heating, soak your scallops in buttermilk for about a half hour.

Combine cornmeal and flour in bowl – season with pimenton and salt.

Toss scallops in coating. Deep fry until golden brown. Dust with more seasoning if you like.


Dipping sauces:

Quick aioli:

juice from half a lemon

two cloves garlic

kosher salt (at least a tablespoon)

olive oil (about a cup)

Crush garlic- begin mashing together with salt to form a paste. Add lemon juice and continue.

Put mixture in food processor. Add olive oil slowly until sauce is formed.

Spicy red sauce:

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 roasted red pepper, chopped

two cloves garlic

olive oil

pimenton, to taste

salt, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

Sautee garlic briefly in olive oil. Add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least twenty minutes. Smooth out sauce with your immersion blender.

Sauteed spinach with cheddar in blood orange dressing

1 bunch fresh spinach

olive oil

quarter cup pine nuts

quarter cup raisins

approx 1 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler

Heat olive oil in pan. Toast pine nuts. Add raisins and spinach – sautee until slightly wilted.

Remove from heat. Toss with cheese and dressing (recipe below).


juice from a blood orange

juice from half a lemon

olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard


1 tsp honey

Whisk ingredients together to combine. Adjust seasoning if necessary.


Parsnip and potato tortilla

1 potato, peeled and sliced thin

1/2 spanish onion, sliced

2 parsnips, peeled and sliced into rounds

2 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

olive oil

5 eggs

Heat olive oil in pan. Cook onions on low until soft – about 15 minutes.

Remove onions from pan. Add more oil. Begin frying potatoes and parsnips in batches (I did three total) until brown on both sides. Remove from pan.

Beat eggs lightly. Combine eggs, onions and potatoes/parsnips.

Add more oil to pan. Pour mixture into pan. Top with cheddar cheese. Reduce heat to medium, and cook covered about 5-6 minutes, until crisp on bottom and starting to cook through to middle.

Using a plate, flip tortilla onto plate, and slide back into pan. Cook for another 5-6 minutes, until crisp on bottom and heated through. Slice.


Bay scallop ceviche with parsnip chips and avocado

bay scallops (3 oz or so)*

4 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped

avocado (about 1/4), sliced

1 parsnip, peeled and cut into rounds

lime juice from about 3 limes

1/2 hot red pepper, seeded and minced

red onion (about 1/4), chopped

orange juice from about half an orange

cilantro, chopped

oil for deep frying

salt to taste

Toss seafood with onion and pepper. Marinate in citrus juices in fridge for about four hours, until seafood is “cooked”.

When it’s almost done, preheat deep fryer to 375. Toss in parsnips and cook until golden brown and crispy.

Drain seafood mixture, toss with cilantro. Season if needed. Put in martini glass and garnish with avocado slices and parsnip chips.


*I could only find sea scallops at the Whole Foods counter and didn’t have time to search elsewhere. What I did find in the frozen section were “patagonian scallops”, which looked the same size and shape as bay, so I went with those.

Recipe notes: If I did this over again, I’d use a more finely ground cornmeal for the scallops. I also didn’t feel like the cheddar did much for the spinach. Finally, my aioli-making skills leave something to be desired (not to mention my food photography skills).


Filed under main dishes

3 responses to “Melissa’s Recipe Challenge

  1. šŸ™‚ You’re so fabulous. I love the ceviche; it looks super refreshing and light. And who likes making aioli!? No one, that’s who.

    Also, parsnip chips make my heart go pitter-patter.

  2. Pingback: 5 From PS7’s: Our Take on Counter Intelligence’s Favorite Five from Peter Smith « Capital Spice

  3. Pingback: Melissa’s Recipe Challenge: Barry Koslow’s Favorite Five « Missy’s Recipes

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