Scallop Hoppin’ John

When it comes to recession-friendly meals, it’s hard to beat good ol’ rice and beans. And lucky for us, there are a number of ways to dress up these pantry staples.

In the South, rice and beans commonly comes in the form of Hoppin’ John, which always includes rice (duh) and black-eyed peas (Fergie not included). I first became aware of this force of culinary awesomeness when I lived in South Carolina. And boy, was it good.

This meal is a little more grown-up than the initial variations I made on this classic, which doused the whole dish with  tomatoes and a dash of hot sauce. To this creation, we added some fresh celery and red onion, Creole seasoning and … oh yeah … scallops.

Who loves ya, baby?

Come hop with John.

Come hop with John.

I’m happy to report that this came out a hell of a lot better than that last time we tried to marry rice and scallops. It was edible!

So, to get started, you’re going to need one cup of frozen black-eyed peas. Did you know you can buy a gigantic bag of these for, like, a dollar? The “peas” take a little while to make, but for two servings (about one cup) we added two cups of water and threw the whole thing, uncovered, into the microwave for half an hour.

We used this brand, but any variety will do. Frozen or canned.

We used this brand, but any variety will do. Frozen or canned.

Yes, half an hour.

Just do what your packaging tells you.

In the meantime, you’re going to want to get to work on your scallops. We used frozen sea scallops that were on sale, and I’m happy to report that they were delicious. To defrost, we covered them in cool water and let them sit for 20 minutes.

See … cooking is easy!

Next, we made the rice — white long grain is what you’re looking for. Also $1 a bag! I think you know the drill on this by now.

So when your black-eyed peas are almost done and the rice is cooking along, it’s time to get busy with your scallops.

We pulled no punches with this recipe. We thoroughly thawed, rinsed and drained the scallops, then patted them dry with paper towels. Go ahead and season them with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, heat up a little olive oil and 1/2 a tablespoon of butter over medium high heat. In the scallops go, once everything’s all nice and melty!

Be sure to give the scallops plenty of room. They’ll need to cook about 2-3 minutes per side to cook, maybe a little longer. Before we flipped the scallops over, we covered them in lemon juice, just to take off any of that “fishy” taste. Repeat this step as they finish cooking.

That lemon juice works magic on the scallops.

That lemon juice works magic on the scallops.

The lemon worked like a charm and made the house smell like a fancy seafood restaurant! In a good way!

Just as the scallops are finishing up, add one can of Rotel, drained, to your rice, along with 1/2 cup finely diced red onion and 1/2 cup diced celery.If you’re not into super spicy foods, just add one can of finely diced tomatoes in place of the Rotel. And of course, you can always substitute fresh if tomatoes are in season.

Finally, add the black-eyed peas and scallops to the rice mix and sprinkle the whole thing with a bit of Creole seasoning.

Add your scallops to the mix and give it a good stir.

Add your scallops to the mix and give it a good stir.

Finish with parsley if you like. This is a colorful, tasty, low-key meal. We hope you love it.

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