Seared Scallop and Beet Salad with Lemon-Crème Fraîche Dressing

To me the most elegant shellfish is a scallop, and I always think a meal is special if scallops are served.  When we were creating our holiday entertaining menu, this was the salad we both loved.  It has the softness of the avocado, the richness of the scallop and the citrusy bite of the orange and the dressing.  Of course it is the perfect salad for holiday entertaining, but it also is enough of a meal for light dinner alone with a bottle of cider.

Serve with Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider

Yield: 4 servings

For the salad:
1 large orange, cut into supremes, juice reserved for the dressing (below)
2 medium beets, steamed or roasted until very tender, peeled and cut into ½-inch slices
1 small head frisée, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 small head butter lettuce, cleaned, leaves separated
4 radishes, sliced thin
1 small avocado, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil
12 large sea scallops, very thoroughly dried with paper towels

For the dressing:
2 teaspoons finely-grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed orange juice (reserved from orange supremes, above)
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt, to taste

To make the dressing:  whisk together the zest, lemon juice, orange juice and crème fraîche in a small bowl.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt.  Set aside.

Place the beet slices in a medium bowl and toss with a few teaspoons of the dressing and a pinch of salt.  Set aside.

To cook the scallops: Season the scallops with salt on both sides.  Heat a large sauté pan over high heat.  Add the butter and oil.  When the foaming has subsided, swirl the butter and oil to coat the pan and carefully add the scallops.  Cook the scallops on one side without disturbing them until they are caramelized, about 2 minutes.  Turn them and cook the other side until it is golden brown and caramelized, a minute or so more. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate while you dress the greens.

Place the frisée and butter lettuce in a large bowl and salt lightly.  Toss with enough of the dressing to just coat.  Taste and add a bit more dressing if desired.

To plate the salad, transfer the dressed greens to a platter or individual plates.  Arrange the dressed beets, avocado, orange supremes and ⅔ of the radish over the greens.  Top with the seared scallops and sprinkle the rest of the radishes over the salad.  Serve immediately.