Five weeknight dishes, from seared scallops to heirloom tomato tart – The Denver Post

Welcome to Five Weeknight Dishes, Labor Day Weekend Edition — though it’s more to the point to call it the Tomato Edition, so enamored am I of the fat tomatoes at the market. Given the choice, why eat anything else? (Aside from sweet corn. Eat that too.)

Three of the five recipes below use tomatoes, an honest reflection of how I cook and eat this time of year: They appear on the table every day. To round out the list, and for those who can’t eat tomatoes, I offer you black bean tacos and a superb technique for cooking barbecued chicken.

Here are five dishes for the week:

1. Seared Scallops With Jammy Cherry Tomatoes

The word “jammy” in the name of this recipe describes the way the cherry tomatoes collapse, condense and sweeten in the pan. She pairs them with scallops and suggests serving with some good bread; pasta would be a nice fit too.

By: Lidey Heuck

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 25 minutes


  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 shallots)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine, such as muscadet or sauvignon blanc
  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes, cut in half through the stem (about 3 cups tomatoes)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 16 large sea scallops (about 1 pound), tough muscle removed
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Julienned fresh basil and mint, for serving
  • Coarse sea salt, for serving


1. Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-low and add the butter to melt. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes, until tender but not browned. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant.

2. Add the wine and cook until about half the liquid has evaporated.

3. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tomatoes have released their juices and almost completely collapsed. Transfer the tomato mixture to a small dish (use a rubber spatula to get every last bit of the sauce!), then carefully wipe out the pan with a damp paper towel.

4. Pat the scallops dry. Add the grapeseed oil to the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. When the oil is very hot, add half the scallops, spacing them evenly in the pan, and season with kosher salt. Cook without moving for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook for 1 more minute. Don’t overcook! Transfer the scallops to a plate and repeat with the remaining scallops, adding more oil if necessary.

5. Drain any remaining oil and take the skillet off the heat. Return the tomatoes and their juices to the skillet and squeeze in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Return the scallops to the skillet, nestling them into the tomatoes. Top with the zest of both lemon halves, julienned basil and mint, and a generous sprinkle of coarse sea salt, and serve immediately.

2. Barbecued Chicken

This recipe shines for two reasons: the tangy-smoky-sweet sauce brushed on the chicken, and the technique for moving the chicken around on the grill. Corn on the side would be a dream.

By: Sam Sifton

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Total time: 45 minutes


  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 6 to 8 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs) skin-on, bone-in, about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Build a fire in your grill, leaving one side free of coals. When coals are covered with gray ash and the temperature is medium (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the coals for 5 to 7 seconds), you are ready to cook. (For a gas grill, turn one of the burners down to low or off, lower cover and heat for 15 minutes.)

2. Meanwhile, combine barbecue sauce with 1 cup water and stir to combine. Set aside.

3. Sprinkle the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper, then put them on the grill directly over the coals and cook for about 15 minutes, turning once every 5 minutes or so, and brushing with the thinned barbecue sauce. When the chicken skin starts to crisp and darken, move the pieces to the cooler side of the grill and let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until a peek inside shows that the meat no longer has any red at the center.

4. Move the chicken back onto the hot side of the grill and baste with sauce again, turning the meat a few times. Remove to a warmed platter and serve.

3. Heirloom Tomato Tart

This beautiful tart takes a bit longer to prepare than our typical weeknight recipes, but if you buy the crust, then it’s a breeze to make. The eggs and cheese in the filling provide the heft that makes this dinner.

By: Vallery Lomas

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Total time: 1 1/2 hours


  • Dough for a 9-inch single crust pie, or use store-bought, rolled into an 11-inch round (see Note)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes (about 4 medium)
  • 1/4 cup store-bought pesto
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Fit the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch tart pan, allowing the edges to rise about 1/4 inch above the rim of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork.

2. Line the dough with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes until beginning to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil and weights. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

3. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into 1/2-inch slices. Place in a colander to drain excess tomato liquid for 20 minutes.

4. Spread 1/4 cup pesto in an even layer over the parbaked tart crust. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pesto. Sprinkle the fresh basil and oregano over the cheese.

5. In a medium bowl, prepare the custard: Whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and pepper until combined.

6. Place the sliced tomatoes evenly over the cheese and herbs in overlapping concentric circles.

7. Pour the custard evenly over the tomato slices. Swirl the pan to evenly distribute the liquid. Bake until the filling is set and won’t jiggle when shaken, about 35 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving warm. This tart can also be served at room temperature.

TIP: Packaged pie dough is an excellent shortcut for weeknight meals, and the tart crust can be parbaked a day in advance.

4. Black Bean Tacos With Avocado and Spicy Onions

Pickled onions are a gift to weeknight cooks. They have the power to instantly enliven every taco, sandwich and salad. Here, they are paired with spiced black beans and avocado to fill vegetarian tacos. Feel free to leave out the jalapeño from the pickled onions, which will keep for weeks in the fridge and bring you a little bit of happiness.

By: Melissa Clark

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes


For the spicy onions:

  • 1 lime
  • 1 small red onion or large shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Large pinch of fine sea salt
  • Small pinch of sugar

For the black beans:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced red or green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Fine sea salt
  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • Fresh cilantro, salsa and sour cream, for garnish (optional)


1. Make the spicy onions: Squeeze the lime into a bowl and add the onion or shallot, jalapeño, salt and sugar to the juice. Set aside while you make the black beans.

2. Prepare the beans: Heat a large skillet, then add 2 tablespoons oil. When oil is hot, add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. If the pan looks dry, drizzle in a little more oil.

3. Add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste, chili powder, oregano and cumin, and sauté until fragrant. Add the beans and a few large pinches of salt and let simmer until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes.

4. Taste and add more salt, chili powder and oregano to taste. Serve beans with tortillas and avocado and top with the pickled onions and jalapeño and some of their liquid, adding any of the garnishes you like.

5. Herby Tomato Salad With Tamarind-Maple Dressing

This stunner of a salad pairs juicy tomatoes with an abundance of herbs and a sharp, sweet dressing. It’d be wonderful alongside simply cooked fish, or tossed with farro to make it a one-dish meal. If you don’t want to get into frying shallots at the end of a long day, use store-bought, or simply omit them.

By: Hetty McKinnon

Yield: 4 servings

Total time: 30 minutes


For the Salad:

  • 2 pounds mixed tomatoes, such as cherry, heirloom, Sungold or beefsteak
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves picked and stalks finely chopped
  • 1 packed cup fresh basil leaves, preferably Thai
  • 12 perilla, shiso or mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced

For the Fried Shallots:

  • 3/4 cup neutral oil, such as grapeseed or vegetable
  • 4 shallots, sliced into 1/16-inch-thick rounds
  • Sea salt

For the Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


1. Start the salad: Cut the tomatoes into different shapes — this creates different textures and visual interest — and place them in a colander. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt, and set in the sink to drain as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Place a strainer over a heatproof bowl. Line a baking sheet or large plate with paper towels.

3. Prepare the fried shallots: Add the oil and shallots to a medium saucepan, and place over low heat. Bring the oil to a simmer, stirring the shallots with a fork to separate the rings. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the shallots are light golden brown, watching them closely, as they will brown quickly toward the end of their cooking. (Don’t let the shallots brown too much, as they will continue to cook after you take them out of the oil.)

4. Remove the shallots to the strainer to drain, then transfer them to the paper towels. Season with salt and allow to cool. Reserve the oil. Shallots can be fried 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

5. Prepare the dressing: Whisk together all the ingredients.

6. Assemble the salad: Combine the tomatoes, two-thirds of the herbs and scallions, and half the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. To finish, top with the remaining dressing, a drizzle of the shallot cooking oil and the rest of the herbs and scallions, then finally with the fried shallots. (Reserve remaining shallot oil for other uses, like vinaigrettes, stir-fries and soups.)

Source: Read Full Article