Cranberry & Balsamic-Glazed Scallops with Polenta Croutons

Besides offering a pleasing texture and mild flavor – perfect for showing off our tangy cranberry-balsamic glaze – heart-healthy scallops are an excellent source of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids.
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Serves: 4
Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 25 minutes (includes chilling time)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 oz grated low-fat Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure apple cider
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb Swiss chard, ribs and leaves sliced into 1-inch ribbons
  • 1 lb sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Lightly mist an 8 x 8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and 3/4 cup water to a boil on medium-high. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal and 3/4 cup water; whisk until smooth. Slowly pour cornmeal mixture into milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes uncovered, stirring often, until polenta thickens and begins to pull away from sides of saucepan. Remove from heat and stir in nutmeg, rosemary and Parmesan. Pour into baking dish, smoothing top with a rubber spatula. Let cool for about 20 minutes, then cover and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and mist lightly with cooking spray. Run a knife around the edges of the chilled polenta to loosen. Invert polenta onto a cutting board and slice into 36 1 1/4-inch squares. Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway, until golden brown.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine cranberries and cider with 2 tbsp water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until cranberries soften. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.
  5. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/2 tbsp oil on medium. Add chard and cook, turning with tongs every minute or so, until wilted and tender-crisp, about 7 minutes; divide among serving plates. Wipe out skillet, add remaining 1/2 tbsp oil to skillet and heat on medium-high. Season scallops with pepper. Working in batches as necessary, add scallops to skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pour cranberry mixture into skillet and turn scallops to coat. Cook for 1 minute, until slightly thickened. Top chard with scallops and polenta croutons, dividing evenly.

Nutrients per serving (3/4 cup chard, 4 oz scallops, 9 croutons): Calories: 362, Total Fat: 9 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Carbs: 42 g, Fiber: 5 g, Sugars: 10 g, Protein: 27 g, Sodium: 515 mg, Cholesterol: 43 mg

Nutritional Bonus: The vitamin B12 found in scallops is essential for keeping homocysteine levels in check by converting the potentially harmful chemical to a more benign form. Without B12, homocysteine can damage blood vessel walls and increase risk for heart attack and stroke. Scallops also help the cardiovascular system by providing ample omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and potassium.

TIP:
Leave plenty of space (1 to 2 inches) between scallops in the skillet. Overcrowding causes them to steam rather than form the flavorful crust you get from searing.

MAKE-AHEAD OPTION:
Prepare Step 2 up to 2 days ahead; cover and refrigerate until needed.