Wilted Spinach and Scallop Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds over Quinoa Recipe

Whole-meal, satisfying salads are the perfect answer to a weeknight meal or the main course of a casual dinner party. Wilted spinach salads are usually made with a hot bacon dressing, but this Asian-inspired version (which appeared in Real Food) by chef Nina Simonds, author of Simple Asian Meals, has a light sweet-and-sour sauce made with low-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sugar, which is a low-calorie but no less flavorful alternative. With its golden, fried scallops, roasted red peppers, and spinach with a dusting of sesame seeds on a bed of toasted quinoa, salad is transformed into a filling, satisfying meal.

As alternatives, you could swap in shrimp or fresh crabmeat for the scallops, suggests Simonds. To make the salad even more substantial, garnish with wedges of 2 hard-boiled eggs or add 1 cup toasted croutons. You can also eliminate the quinoa and instead serve the salad with crusty French bread or rolls.

Wilted Spinach and Scallop Salad with Toasted Sesame Seeds over Quinoa

Makes 4 Servings

12 c. low-sodium soy sauce
5 tbsp. clear rice vinegar
2 12 tbsp. sugar

1 lb. large sea scallops, muscles removed, rinsed, and cleaned
2 tbsp. rice wine, sake, or dry white wine
2 tsp. minced ginger
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 c. quinoa
3 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
3 roasted red peppers, blotted dry and cut into 14-inch dice
1 lb. baby spinach

Mix all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Holding a knife parallel to cutting board, halve scallops horizontally. Place in a bowl, add rice wine and ginger, toss lightly, and let sit.

Heat 12 tablespoon olive oil and toasted sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat about 20 seconds, until hot. Add quinoa and sauté over medium heat 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and toasted. Add 112 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 15 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat, add 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, and fluff with a fork. Cover to keep warm.

Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat until very hot, almost smoking. Drain scallops and add to pan, cooking over high heat 3 minutes on each side, until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain. Rinse and dry pan.

Reheat pan until very hot, add remaining 12 tablespoon olive oil, and heat about 20 seconds, until very hot. Add peppers and stir-fry over high heat 30 seconds. Add dressing and stir-fry until just under a boil. Reduce heat to low and add spinach, tossing lightly and quickly to coat and wilt slightly.

Spoon quinoa into a large, shallow serving bowl, shaping a slight indentation in center for spinach and scallops. Spoon over spinach and distribute scallops in an even layer over spinach. Sprinkle remaining sesame seeds over top. Serve immediately.

Nutrition info (Per Serving): Calories 468 (169 From Fat); Fat 19g (Sat. 3g); Chol 23mg; Sodium 1539mg; Carb 52g; Fiber 8g; Protein 25g


Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.