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Dinner Date: Salt-kissed Scallops with Chardonnay from Lodi

11/25/2015 11:55AM ● Published by David Norby


The Simple Art of Salt Block Cooking by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser

(Ulysses Press, 2015, $21.95) 

Scallops work beautifully oven-cooked on a salt block. Their tender flesh picks up just enough salt flavor, and the spicy greens and tangy vinaigrette round out the flavors of this dish.

  • 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 lb. sea scallops (about 16 to 20) 
  • 6 oz. baby arugula (about 4 cups, loosely packed) 

1. With the oven rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Preheat the salt block on the stove, beginning with low heat and gradually increasing the temperature to medium-high, until the surface temperature is 375-400 degrees. Transfer the salt block to the oven.

2. Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt until smooth. Gradually drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continuously, until the mixture emulsifies. Season to taste with additional salt, as needed, and black pepper. Set aside.

3. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Remove the salt block from the oven, arrange the scallops on the salt block, and return it to the oven. They should sizzle when they make contact with the block. Cook 3 minutes, then use tongs to turn the scallops over and cook an additional 3 minutes. The scallops are done when they are lightly browned and opaque.

4. While the scallops are cooking, place the arugula in a large bowl, and drizzle with the vinaigrette (whisk to re-emulsify if the vinaigrette has separated). Use tongs or salad servers to toss the greens to coat evenly with the vinaigrette.

5. Place about 1 cup of salad on each plate. Divide the scallops evenly among the plates, arranging them on top of the greens.
Serves 4


The Phillips family—who has been farming since their great-great-grandfather Andrew Harshner and his wife, Lucille, homesteaded 160 acres near the town of Lodi following the Civil War in the 1860s—started Michael David Winery. The region’s natural affinity for grape growing quickly became evident, and by the turn of the century, 25 percent of California’s grape acreage was in Lodi. “Michael” and “David” are the brothers behind the winery’s namesake. Today, as the winery extends itself into the sixth generation of family grape growers, they continue to emphasize the importance of quality wines with unique, eye-catching labels—all while using progressive, sustainable farming practices. 

The 2013 Michael David Chardonnay, reasonable priced at $16 a bottle, is rich and golden with hints of pineapple, creamy lemon, floral notes and a fruity finish. Medium-bodied, the oak is subtle with traces of butter and vanilla from barrel aging. The wine’s creamy flavor pairs particularly well with the buttery taste of this month’s recipe for Salt-Kissed Scallops on Arugula with Tarragon Vinaigrette.

—Christina Leyva

Events Manager, 36 Handles Pub & Eatery

Wine photo courtesy of Michael David Winery; cookbook and recipe photos courtesy of Ulysses Press.

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