4 and 1/2 cups water
1 cup stone-ground grits
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Kosher salt (to taste)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small shallot (peeled, minced)
1 clove garlic (peeled, minced)
3 plum tomatoes (small dice)
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups basil (leaves only)
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of salt
1 pound Dry Sea Scallops (side-muscle removed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Cajun seasoning (to taste, recipe above)
1 tablespoon basil oil (recipe above)
For the Grits: In a medium saucepan, add the water and bring to a boil. Slowly stream in the grits and whisk until combined. Add bay leaf and season with salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue whisking the grits. Cook for 40-45 minutes, stirring often, until the grits are thick and creamy. Remove bay leaf, and season with pepper. Keep warm.
For the Tomatoes: In a medium saute pan, over medium heat, warm olive oil. Add shallots and garlic, and cook until soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes have softened, about 2-3 minutes. Discard thyme, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.
For the Cajun Seasoning: In a small bowl, add smoked paprika, garlic powder, oregano, salt, onion powder, thyme, black pepper, and cayenne powder. Whisk to combine and set aside.
For the Basil Oil: Prepare an ice bath. Set aside.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add basil and blanch for about 10 seconds. Remove basil with a fine mesh strainer and transfer to prepared ice bath. Once basil has cooled, remove from water and gently squeeze out any excess moisture.
In the carafe of a blender, add basil, olive oil, and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour into a fine mesh strainer set over a glass jar. Cover and set aside.
For the Cajun Sea Scallops: On a clean workspace, pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with Cajun seasoning.
Preheat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, and place scallops in pan, leaving space in between to allow browning. Sear, without moving, until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Flip scallops and add basil oil. Tip skillet towards you slightly, and spoon basil oil over the scallops. Baste scallops continuously, until cooked through with an opaque center, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from heat and keep warm.
To Serve: Divide grits evenly amongst bowls, top with tomatoes, followed by scallops. Drizzle with basil oil and serve.
Tip: Be sure to shock the basil in the ice bath immediately after blanching to ensure the color stays bright green!