If you were to ask me about a significant summer memory, relating to food, I would almost automatically reveal any number of times my family went to a specific seafood restaurant in Maine that, to this day, I can still taste every meal I ever had in the non-air conditioned, over-crowded dining room. The place has recently shuttered its doors, much to my surprise and a bit of sadness, especially since their food was delicious, comforting, and a staple of every family-filled, Maine summer. And it was full of butter. :)
While the majority of my years going to said spot was pre-Celiac diagnosis, I think that's what makes the memory even stronger. I got the same few dishes off the menu every time, in varying rotation, often hoping my grandfather would get the option I didn't choose, so we could share (or I would steal some off his plate). The standout items for me were fried scallops or honey baked scallops, which were both decadent, extremely summery (to me), and very much not gluten free. And we always had onion rings. Those were the days.... ;-)
As I say, flash forward to today, and this summer, my passion for scallops and seafood is just as strong and my nostalgia for dinners at that seafood spot in Maine with my family sail across my mind at least a few times each week. So, it was time to rectify the situation!
While I have yet to give in to trying deep-frying scallops at home (my husband is quite eager to do so and has his deep-frying tools at the ready), I thought health-wise it would be better to try baking them first. We found a recipe from The Lemon Bowl, a wonderful site that I strongly recommend, made a couple tweaks, and we were off and running. Oh man, these were going to be good!
The tweaks: we used sea scallops instead of bay because we prefer larger scallops, and we baked them in individual-size pans rather than ramekins, which are now on my shopping list. However, I must say the mini All-Clad pans worked perfectly and made for some beautiful photos. :)
These baked scallops, while not identical to the honey-baked ones of my youth, were full of amazing flavor, crunchy topping from a great Panko/butter/lemon mixture, and the feeling of summer at its finest. Eating them took me right back to those nights in Maine, trying to steal a bite or two of those sweet and savory scallops from my grandfather. Luckily, he was always willing to share. As long as I traded a scallop of his for an onion ring of mine. ;-)
Notes: for this dinner, we paired our scallops with a simple arugula salad which was great because we wanted something fresh and light as a side dish during these hot nights. However, you could make this meal even more savory and special by adding in a baked potato, a classic rice pilaf, or even French fries/onion rings. We try for healthier meals at home so that indulging at restaurants is that much sweeter, but I'm pretty sure next time we make this (so very soon) we will add in a potato in some form. And all that nostalgia will come rushing back, as always.