Easy Bake

Breadcrumbs add a crispy finish to sweet and tender scallops.

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Baked Scallops au Gratin
½ pound sea scallops
1/3 cup Japanese breadcrumbs (panko) or fine, dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place scallops in a lightly greased 1-quart baking dish.

Combine breadcrumbs and remaining ingredients, and sprinkle over scallops. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until scallops are opaque and topping is golden. Makes 2 servings.

Look for scallops labeled "dry" or "dry pack." Dry scallops appear ivory to dark tan and haven't been treated with preservatives. Avoid bleached white scallops swimming in a milky liquid―a sure sign of heavy treatment. In this recipe, you can substitute bay scallops, but decrease cooking time to 10 minutes.

Fresh fennel (see recipe below) has a white, rounded base with pale green stalks that are sometimes sold with their fernlike fronds at the ends. Look for firm, blemish-free bulbs that haven't cracked or dried out.

Sautéed Fennel with Orange and Olives
Cut a fennel bulb in half lengthwise; thinly slice. Sauté in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove from heat, and stir in 1 tablespoon grated orange peel and ¼ cup pitted and halved kalamata olives. Segment orange; stir into fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Steamed Rice
Cook long-grain or brown rice according to package directions, using chicken broth instead of water for extra flavor. Sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley, and serve.

Dolores Cakebread, cofounder and executive vice president of culinary and ambience for Cakebread Cellars, says the fruity aromas in their Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($22) make it a fine accompaniment to scallops.

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