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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Dinner: Bacon Wrapped Scallops & Potato Gnocchi

Happy Valentine's Day! Dinner tonight celebrates love in many ways. First of all, I LOVE to cook, secondly, I LOVE to cook for my lovely husband and thirdly, I LOVE to blog! Deciding on a meal for my honey was simple. He loves Italian food, especially gnocchi as well as bacon and seafood. What is more sensual than a scallop?! Legend has it that the Greek goddess Aphrodite was carried to earth atop a scallop shell. Since then, scallops have been classified as an aphrodisiac, meaning a food that increases sexual desire. I wanted to use a sweet and sour glaze for the scallop to counter the saltiness of the bacon. As for the main event, gnocchi- I decided to saute kale, onion, bacon, and garlic to pair with the pillowy potato gnocchi. I usually come up with recipe ideas while at the grocery store. I browse for what's on sale, what looks fresh and what catches my eye. Kale caught my eye because of its beautiful deep green color and health benefits. Kale is rich in vitamins and minerals proven to reduce the risk of cancer. I have been dying to cook with macadamia nuts ever since I returned from Hawaii. I toasted the macadamia nuts in this dish for a textural and earthy element. I wanted the gnocchi sauce to be fairly simple, allowing for the ingredients to shine through, so I made a quick brown butter. The meal was fantastic but the company, even better ;). 

Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Sweet & Sour Glaze
2 jumbo scallops
1 piece bacon
1/4 cup cider or rice vinegar
3 tbsp soy 
3 tbsp sugar 
3 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp sesame oil  
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp ginger 
1/2 cup chopped scallion

Preheat oven to 425. Combine vinegar through scallion in a bowl and whisk. Wrap each scallop with 1/2 piece of bacon and seal with a tooth pick. Brush scallop on both sides with sweet and sour sauce and bake at 425 for 20-30 minutes until cooked. Serve with sweet and sour sauce on the side for dipping.

Potato Gnocchi with Kale & Macadamia Nuts 
(serves 4)
1 air-tight bag potato gnocchi (found at Trader Joe's)
4 tbsp olive oil 
1 bunch kale, chopped and washed 
2 pieces bacon, diced
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
1 head garlic, chopped
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped 
1/4 cup butter 
1/4 cup minced basil
Salt, pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese 

Cook gnocchi by package directions, set aside. Roast garlic head in tin foil, cutting top layer off and drizzle with olive oil. Roast at 425 for about 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Blanch kale in boiling salted water and cool in ice bath to dry. In a large skillet heat 1 tbsp olive oil and cook onion and bacon until tender. Remove onions and bacon from pan. Heat remaining oil over high heat. When pan is screaming hot, add kale and flash fry until slightly crispy. Add onion and bacon mixture to pan along with the basil, butter and spices. Heat until butter lightly browns. Add cooked gnocchi and toss to coat. Plate with a sprinkling of cheese and chopped macadamia nuts. 

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