Now that you’ve eaten all of the Christmas cookies, here is a healthy recipe to help start your 2011 off right! Scallops are incredibly low in fat and calories and require five to six minutes of total cooking time in a pan. Scallops are one of my favorite types of shellfish. A scallop is a type of bivalve mollusk, which is a muscle tucked between two shells that are hinged together. Clams, oysters and mussels are also bivalve mollusks. The shells of scallops are fan shaped and often used as contains to serve other dishes.  The entire scallop is edible but the muscle is the most available and is classified into two major categories: bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops are very tiny and more sweeter than a sea scallop. They’re more costly because they are less common than sea scallops, which are widely available and average about 1 1/2 inches in diamter.  Bay scallops are available on the East Coast in the fall.  Sea scallops are just as sweet as bay scallops, they’re just a tad chewier and denser. They are available on the East Coast in midfall to midspring.

Traditionally, scallops are harvested by boats using chains and nets. The term “diver scallops” are used for those scallops that are hand picked by divers, who naturally pick the largest and ripest scallops, leaving the smaller ones intact until they are ready to be harvested.  There is some controversy surrounding the classification of diver scallops, as one can’t ever be sure that they were truly hand picked.

When picking out scallops, keep in mind that they are supposed to range in color from a beige to a creamy pink. Though stark white scallops are more visually appealing, this is a sign that they have been soaked in water (this increases the weight, which will cost you more!). The shelf life of scallops is not lengthy. You usually need to use them immediately after purchase, within a day or two, and they should smell fresh and sweet.

This recipe took me less than 20 minutes and is something I will make again and again. The freshness and juiciness of the fruit makes you feel alive and transports you to a tropical place on these dreary, desolate winter days. If you don’t have the fresh fruit on hand, frozen lima beans or corn are a nice and healthy accompaniment to scallops. Or try to serve your scallops over whole wheat linguine and some diced tomatoes with sauteed spinach.  Here, I added in a cup of cooked instant brown rice with margarine, cilantro and Tony’s seasoning to spice it up.

Fairytale Winter Fruit Salsa

1/2 cup of chopped pineapple
1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
1/2 pomegranate arils (seeds)
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1/2-1 jalapeƱo, seeds removed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all of the above ingredients and set aside for at least 15 minutes while the flavors marinate.

Fairytale Pan Seared Scallops
(Serves 2)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 pound of scallops (about 5-6 per person)
Salt and pepper

Wash each scallop and pat dry. Lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan on high to coat. Add in garlic for last 10 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium high. Add in scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Do not crowd the pan with the scallops! Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to blot.  Serve immediately with tropical fruit salsa as a garnish.