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Nightingale's scallops with almond gazpacho: 50 Favorite Dishes, no. 32

Marvelous mollusks: Nightingale's scallops with green grapes
Marvelous mollusks: Nightingale's scallops with green grapes
Alma Guzman
As a countdown to the Best of the Twin Cities 2013, coming April 17, the Hot Dish is serving up 50 of our favorite local dishes.

In 2012 it seemed like every scallop dish we encountered paired the sweet, almost vanilla-y essence of the bivalve with some variety of salty pork product. There were seared scallops with wheels of crisp pancetta, gently sauteed scallops with fatty lardons, and meaty little bay scallops with pasta and prosciutto--all undoubtedly delicious, but after so many iterations, also a touch dull. That's why, when Nightingale opened last fall, we were particularly excited by their preparation.

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Highlighting both the creamy texture and light flavors of the mollusk, Nightingale's chef-owner Carrie McCabe-Johnston pairs hard-seared scallops (still properly wobbly on the inside) with an ethereal combination of sour green grapes and a rich, toasty, almond-thickened gazpacho.


When you hear "gazpacho," you might think of the traditional Andalucían tomato-based cold soup, but that's just one variation of the ages-old dish. McCabe-Johnston's gazpacho, with its almost hummus-like consistency, is much closer to gazpacho that's typical of Cadiz and Extremadura, where the dish is generally used as a dip. The reason behind this particular variation is that historically there was a lack of usable water in the region, so recipes often relied on nuts, olive oil, bread, sometimes vinegar, and very little liquid, resulting in a creamy texture and fruity, nutty flavor, which is just what you get in this scallop dish, one of the most popular small plates at Nightingale. 
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