I've always been a sucker for scallops. They're sweet, meaty, cylindrical and bite-sized. This particular recipe puts scallops at the center of a skewer's worth of very tasty kebabs. It requires no more than 15 minutes hands-on time and 40 minutes total from start to finish. And it's how I spell dinner — and relief — at the end of a long day of work, when I have neither the time nor the patience to make anything more complicated.
First, buy the best scallops available. Sometimes, scallops are harvested, stored in water with preservatives, then kept at sea for days before the boat returns to shore. These are known as "wet" scallops, and I do not recommend them. Instead, look for "dry" scallops or "day boat" scallops, which are caught and brought to market right away. Of these, you want the biggest, plumpest specimens you can find. Those are the ones that will most easily pick up nice grill marks when you set them down across the grates.
The bright, tangy citrus marinade here is a mixture of lemon juice, orange juice and the zest of both fruits, along with a little olive oil. It's your choice of herb — sage or basil (the home team liked them both) — after which each scallop is wrapped in a strip of prosciutto. You want to be careful to fold the prosciutto and herbs around the scallops so they're flush with the scallops' edge. That will ensure the scallops cook evenly on the grill after they've been threaded onto skewers. How to ensure they don't stick to the grill? Pat them dry, then brush them with a little oil right before grilling.
The grill must be well heated before you start cooking. Once you're rolling, don't turn over the skewers until the scallops are easily loosened from the grill, which is how you know they've been properly seared. This will only take 2 to 3 minutes a side. Give each one a little poke in the belly to see if it's almost done. You want to pull them off the grill when there's still a little bit of give, indicating they're slightly undercooked. The carry-over cooking time will finish the job.
Citrus-marinated scallop and prosciutto kebabs
Start to finish: 40 minutes (15 minutes hands on)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the scallops
16 sea scallops (about 1½ inches in diameter, 1¼ pounds), tough muscle discarded
8 thin slices prosciutto di Parma (about 4 ounces)
16 large basil or sage leaves
Preheat the grill to medium.
In a medium bowl whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, orange juice and orange zest with a hefty pinch of salt until the salt has dissolved; whisk in the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the scallops and toss until they are well coated. Let them marinate for 8 minutes.
Cut the prosciutto slices in half crosswise and fold them into strips about 1½ inches wide (the same width as the scallops) and 5 inches long. Arrange the strips on a work surface and place a basil leaf in the center of each strip. Top the leaf with a scallop and wrap the prosciutto around the scallop to enclose it. Thread 4 prosciutto-wrapped scallops onto each of 4 metal skewers. (If using wooden skewers, soak them for 20 minutes in water before threading the scallops.)
Pat the exposed scallop surfaces dry and brush them lightly with olive oil. Place the skewers on the grill and cook the scallops for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until almost firm to the touch, transfer to plates and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 96 calories from fat; 11 g fat (2g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 1,317 mg sodium; 5 g carbohydrates; 0 g fiber; 0 g sugar; 26 g protein.
Sara Moulton is the host of public television's "Sara's Weeknight Meals." She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including "Cooking Live." Her latest cookbook is "Home Cooking 101."