As the sunlight fades and dusk envelops you in its sweet tranquility, life outdoors becomes magical. Daylight lingers in long shadows while stars begin to twinkle and fireflies commence their ritualistic dance.
At moments like these, outdoor dinners are more than a meal. They’re memories in the making … and full of romance. It’s a some-enchanted-evening kind of moment, and you’ll want a table to match. Set it like a Michelin-starred establishment – elegant without being overwrought. Choose sparkling crystal wine glasses, beautiful dinnerware and crisp linens. And firelight from candles and lanterns, glowing like the Milky Way.
The food should be as captivating as the night, but still light, fresh and easy. This is summer, after all. Scallops are the perfect choice for a romantic summer meal – legend has it that the goddess Aphrodite was carried down from the heavens to Earth on a scallop shell.
And practically speaking, scallops are widely available, full of flavor and a cinch to prepare. Our recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques takes the classic gratinéed version and brings it outdoors to the grill.
Grilled Coquilles St. Jacques
Contributed by Kelly Sterling
6 large sea scallops, plus 6 clean scallop shells
sea salt and pepper to taste
8 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (enoki, shiitake, maitake), cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup dry vermouth
1 Tbsp minced parsley
1 Tbsp minced tarragon
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup gruyère cheese, shredded
6 lemon wedges
Light grill to medium high. Brush the scallops with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until nicely charred and just seared, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat.
Divide the mushrooms among the shells. Top with the grilled scallops and drizzle evenly with the vermouth. Carefully place back on the grill, close the lid and cook for 2-3 minutes. Finally, sprinkle with the herbs, cream and gruyère, close the lid once more and cook another 2–3 minutes or until the scallops are just cooked, cheese browned and sauce bubbling. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
Pair with a crisp Muscadet, such as Le Grand Fief Muscadet featured in Frontgate’s Great Wines of France collection.
And if you’re in the mood for something sweet, cap off this delicious meal with our Gourmet S’mores.