Simple Scramble or Stunning Soufflé?
Having run a bed and breakfast for many years, I’ve made more omelets and soufflés than I can count. But when I make them for my own family, it is usually for supper! We love breakfast at dinnertime, usually on a day when time has just gotten away from us, whether a quick scrambled egg or something more complicated, they are satisfying and delicious.
Sometimes I plan ahead for a supper that features eggs and seasonal ingredients we love. Cheese soufflé is a favorite of the family and takes quite a bit more time than a scramble. This dish can also double as dessert in its many variations from a simple addition of sautéed apples, to a makeover using chocolate.
You can fill an omelet with anything you love from fresh creations to leftover casseroles! One of our favorite egg dishes is a simple omelet featuring exquisite bay scallops from local waters.
Nantucket or Massachusetts Bay scallops are the best in the world, and I’m not
saying that just because I’m a New Englander! They are in season November through March, occasionally early April, but every year is different depending on how the winter and the supply are going. They are sweet and tender, with full flavor that is unforgettable. You will seldom find these in the fish counter at the grocery store, you will need to pay a visit to your local fish market.
A reasonable substitution
If you cannot find New England bay scallops, use natural “dry” wild sea scallops that have not been soaked in preservatives. Ask, and use your nose. A dry scallop will have a lovely aroma of the sea, it will smell exactly how scallops taste. A preserved scallop will have no aroma or flavor! For this recipe, just cut the larger sea scallops into fourths, and please avoid anything imported.*
My cheese of choice for this recipe is a baby Swiss from Boggy Meadow Farms in Walpole, N.H., right across the Connecticut River from where we live, but you can substitute any favorite, nutty Swiss. Since I’m not Italian, I often mix cheese with seafood! Of course, if you are avoiding dairy, the cheese is optional.
Watch your heat when cooking these, you don’t want your pan too hot. Personally, I do not like color on an omelet, and too much heat will dry them out! I like them soft and tender so that the egg flavor can shine through and not the taste of scorch, but if you prefer a browned omelet, make it your way.
These are the ingredients you will need per omelet, expand accordingly. Although I make all filling ingredients in one batch, I mix up each omelet separately.
Omelet with Nantucket Scallops and Peas
For each omelet:
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. minced shallots
1/3 cup domestic bay or dry sea scallops
2 tbsp. dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 tsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1/3 cup frozen baby peas, thawed
1 ounce Swiss cheese, coarse grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Thaw your peas and chop your shallots. Gently rinse the scallops under water, pat dry, and remove any large side muscles. Most are small and tender and you don’t have to remove them like you would with sea scallops. Lightly salt.
Over medium high heat, sauté the shallot in butter just until tender. Add scallops to the pan and cook for about two to two and a half minutes, depending on size. The scallops should remain opaque in the center. Err on the side of under; they will continue to cook in this dish, and you absolutely don’t want to go over. The poor cook will just have to test one to ensure perfect timing!
Remove scallops and shallots to a plate and tent with foil. In the same pan, stir in wine and paprika, scraping the bottom to deglaze the pan, and let cook until reduced to about half. Add the cream, cook for about another couple of minutes until reduced again, then stir in the peas and reserved scallops. Check seasoning, remove from heat and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the eggs, a little salt and pepper and mix well. Heat an 8-inch, non-stick omelet pan over medium and add some butter. It should sizzle, and then quiet. Once quiet, pour in the eggs and let set for about 10 seconds or so. Gently move and lift eggs from outer edges of the pan, letting the egg run under. Use a light hand with this. I keep the heat around medium, but lift the eggs off the burner if I feel they are cooking too fast, and I keep the pan moving.
This is a quick process. When eggs are nearly cooked but still soft on the top, remove from burner, add the scallop mixture down the middle of the omelet, and top with the cheese, reserving a bit of the sauce for serving. Gently fold one side of the omelet over the center (the side opposite the side you will be slipping onto the plate).
To serve, run a spatula around the edge of the omelet, bring to the plate and gently slide about halfway off. Then flip the bulk of the omelet over the first. Top with the reserved sauce, a little more pepper, and fresh parsley.
Serve this egg dish with chopped tomatoes and a simple salad of parsley and arugula (if you can find it), dressed sparingly with a bit of sherry vinegar and a pinch of salt.
Variations: If you don’t eat seafood or are looking for a vegetarian variation, you can make this with mushrooms, or even just the peas and cheese, it will still be delicious. You can also make this with crab, or any other shellfish.
Health watch: Always ask your seafood’s country of origin. Don’t even try this using bay scallops raised in China, the Philippines, etc.; these farm-raised pencil erasers have no flavor and absolutely no resemblance to the original, and, more importantly, have had chronic problems in the past with health and safety concerns serious enough to be banned in many countries. Beware, they are often “processed” in countries other than where they originate, so to be on the safe side, stick with US certified.