Credit…James Ransom for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.
The definition of scampi is slippery. Is it a type of shrimp? A classic shrimp dish? Or is it a garlicky, lemony, winy sauce that’s so delicious it would work magic on anything?
It’s all of the above! But Hetty McKinnon makes an irresistible case for that last option with a fantastic new vegetarian take: mushroom scampi (above). You can use any variety of mushroom you like, from cremini to white button to shiitake. But oyster mushrooms are a fun nod to the recipe’s oceanic origins and have a pleasingly chewy texture.
To dive into something truly from the sea, I’d urge you to try Ali Slagle’s gorgeous recipe for seared salmon with caper-raisin vinaigrette. It’s a clever strategy for a one-skillet meal: After sautéing the cauliflower, the salmon is added to the hot pan and seared without flipping. This lets the skin turn deeply brown and crisp, and basting the top of the fish with buttery frizzled capers cooks the flesh just enough without drying it out. It’s brilliant.
Another new one-pan recipe, again by Hetty, is fried cheese and chickpeas in spicy tomato gravy. Fried cheese on its own never gets old, and rounding it out with simmered tomatoes and chickpeas makes a satisfying meal. Hetty notes that vegans can substitute slabs of firm tofu, making this as adaptable as it is appealing.
Then for dessert (I’ll never forget dessert), how about Eric Kim’s fragrant chamomile tea cake with a pretty pink strawberry icing? The leftovers are perfect for breakfast, too.
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When Searing Scallops, Skip the Flip
Salmon isn’t the only seafood that benefits from cooking on one side only; so do sea scallops. Heat a pan until wickedly hot. Add a slick of oil, then your well-dried sea scallops (make sure they’re not touching one another). Cook for two minutes, then add some butter to the pan, letting it melt. Baste the scallops until the tops firm up and turn less translucent, one to three more minutes. That’s it! You can add other seasonings to the butter (garlic, capers, anchovies, soy sauce, chili crisp), but a squeeze of lemon and a scatter of sea salt is really all you need. Serve seared side up.