For many New Englanders, it wouldn’t be summer without a stint at the beach. Whether it’s a few day trips here and there or your annual summer “vacation destination,” the combination of salty air, sunscreen, fried clams, paperback novels, and dripping ice cream cones is irresistible, and we usually spend the rest of the summer wishing we were back at the shore.
When you’re not at the beach (and heck, even if you are), it’s the perfect time to bring the beach to you. Pick up some fresh summer seafood — from lobsters and crabs to fish and clams — and enjoy your supper on the deck or porch without the bother of swooping seagulls, sunburn, sandy feet.
One of the easiest summer seafood dishes to make at home is a dish of baked scallops. Topped with a layer of buttery, seasoned cracker crumbs and a sprinkling of parsley and lemon juice, these baked scallops take just minutes to prepare and are always a hit.
Scallops are in season from October – March but are available year-round. Their and soft texture (only over-cooked scallops are rubbery) and mildy sweet flavor makes them a popular seafood choice. Even if you don’t like eating scallops, you’d have a hard time passing up a handful of beautiful, ridged scallop shells — plentiful throughout the New England coast. I picked up the collection below on a winter trip to Nantucket earlier this year, where my down jacket made shell-hunting more awkward, but it was nice having no competition on the sand.
To make baked scallops, start by picking up dry-packed fresh sea or bay scallops on the day you plan to use them. I went with sea scallops (the larger of the two) and picked up a little less than the recipe called for since I was only making enough for two. After removing the muscle from the side of the scallop, gently rinse each one and pat it dry before arranging in a buttered casserole dish. Because my scallops were large, I also gently cut them into halves or thirds. This wasn’t ideal and I wished I’d been able to use the smaller, bite-sized bay scallops, but they didn’t look as fresh in the case, so I made do.
After the scallops are in position, combine the cracker crumbs with some melted butter, fresh-grated Parmesan cheese, seasonings, lemon juice, and a little dry vermouth (which I swapped with sherry). Spoon the crumbs over the top of the scallops, sprinkle on some chopped parsley, cover the dish with foil, and bake for a half hour.
Since I didn’t have any garlic salt I used sea salt but added one clove of minced garlic.
The baked scallops smelled amazing while they were in the oven, and after a few seconds under the broiler, were piping hot, buttery, and perfect for a summer supper on the porch.