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A favourite amongst the Peregrinos - Scallops, Spinach and Mushrooms (Vieiras con Espinaca y Setas)

Many food items merge so well with one each other. With the distinctive terrain in Mediterranean's Spain, an abundance of products is available fresh in the local markets each day. This recipe utilises three that are staples throughout Spain.


Spinach is just one favourite green and originates from the Middle East. A legendary agronomist, Ibn al-‘Awwam, dubbed the emerald-coloured vegetable, as the "captain of leafy greens."

Growing conditions for spinach usually are not ideal in hot climates. However, the Moors devised advanced irrigation techniques around the 8th century A.D. to combat any climate limitations. Spinach was mainly cultivated in the Moorish strongholds of Iberia around 1100 AD, including Andalusia, Leon and Valencia.

Mushrooms, on the other hand, are indigenous to Spain, especially in Cataluña. Amongst the foothills of the Pyrenees, the scenery is striking and the climate's ideal for mushrooms. It is not unusual that the residents from the city of Barcelona head out to the countryside on weekends and go mushroom picking.

Scallops from the local waters are an added enjoyment to many recipes. The scallop shell is a meaningful symbol of the Camino trek to Santiago de Compostela. They are found on the milestone markers leading the way. Many of those who walk the path to Santiago de Compostela will have a scallop shell tied to their backpack or on their walking stick. The scallop shell is also the traditional emblem to the shrine of St James in Santiago de Compostela. The connection to the scallop and its shells developed from folklore.


There are two variations to this legend. According to one early fable, a prince on horseback was thrown into the sea after his horse was agitated by the arrival of a mysterious, unmanned ship containing St. James’ corpse. The horse and rider were then rescued by miraculous intervention, emerging from the water alive and adorned with scallop shells.

Another account, along similar lines, attests of that a storm at sea struck the same ship transporting St. James’ body back to Spain. The corpse was lost at sea only to be found when it washed ashore intact. It was covered in shells, as though it served as a protective layer.

The recipe Vieiras con Espinaca y Setas – Scallops with Spinach and Mushrooms unites these three into a delicious entree with easy preparation.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 20 sea scallops, shelled, washed and cleaned

  • 8 ounces of small mushroom

  • 8 ounces fresh spinach

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 tbsp dry white wine

  • Pinch of nutmeg

  • Salt and pepper for taste

For the sauce:

  • 2 egg yolks

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Juice from spinach and mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Pour 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan.

  2. Once sizzling, add mushrooms and fry for one minute.

  3. Add spinach and cook on high heat for approximately one minute until wilted.

  4. Drain the spinach and mushrooms by pressing them gently through a sieve. Place the juice aside separately from the mushrooms and spinach.

  5. Heat the balance of olive oil in a frying pan and when hot add the scallops.

  6. Sauté for a few minutes without disturbing them. Then turn over and season them generously with salt and pepper and place in the wine.

  7. Continue to cook for a few more minutes and place aside.

Preparation of the sauce:

  1. In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the lemon juice over a pan of simmering water.

  2. Add the reserved juices from the spinach and mushrooms.

  3. Season with a little salt and stir continuously until thickened for about 5 minutes.

To finish:

  1. Arrange the spinach, mushrooms and scallops on a plate.

  2. Sprinkle the top with nutmeg.

  3. Spoon the sauce on the side or directly on the scallops.

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