Rich scallops a match for Napa chardonnay

Newton, 2018 Napa Valley Unfiltered Chardonnay ($55), our wine of the week, is a sophisticated crowd pleaser, a classic example of the varietal. Its richness and elegance, enhanced by good minerality and refreshing acidity, prevent it from being cloying. The right pairings make this wine soar.

Rich seafood — clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops, lobster, salmon, rockfish — prepared simply with good butter, salt, pepper and maybe a bit of tarragon, basil or chives are great choices. Sweet potatoes and winter squash are good matches, too. A mild sweet potato curry with a dollop of plain whole-milk yogurt is a delightful companion.

Traditional chicken pot pie or little chicken-polenta pies encourage the wine to bloom, as does almost anything with corn, provided it is not too sweet or too spicy. Pork loin with a glaze of peach jam; chicken-apple sausages with polenta seasoned with ginger, turmeric and cardamom; and rabbit Dijonnaise all encourage this wine to blossom.

Parsnips, in soup, root vegetable hash or fritters, make a rather surprising pairing, something to keep in mind for the winter holidays. Carrot fritters with honey-mustard sauce engage the wine beautifully, too.

For today’s recipe, the season inspired me. Succotash, a saute of late summer/early fall vegetables, is quite flexible. You can add diced zucchini or replace the green beans with fresh shell beans, cooked until tender. Lima beans are traditional in most versions, and in the South, you’ll often find sliced okra.

Fall Succotash with Scallops

Makes about 5 servings

8 to 10 ounces sea scallops

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish

Black pepper in a mill

4 tablespoons butter

1 medium shallot, minced

2 ounces pancetta, in small cubes

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 to 6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

2 large red bell peppers, seared, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice

Kernels from 4 very fresh ears of corn

1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives

Put a piece of wax paper on a clean work surface and set the scallops on it. If they seem very damp, pat them dry with a clean paper towel. Season them all over with salt, 1 teaspoon of the paprika and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.

Put 3 tablespoons of the butter into a medium saute pan set over medium-low heat and, when it is melted, add the shallot and saute gently until soft and fragrant, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the pancetta and continue to cook, stirring now and then, until it loses its raw look, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, bell peppers, green beans and corn; season lightly with salt; cover; reduce the heat; and cook very gently for 4 to 5 minutes, until the beans and corn just lose their raw taste. Stir in the remaining paprika and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat, season generously with black pepper, taste and correct for salt. Cover and keep warm.

Remove the scallops from the refrigerator.

Set a small saute pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and, when it is fully melted, add the scallops. Cook for 1½ minutes, turn and cook 1½ minutes more. Remove from the heat.

Working quickly, divide the succotash among individual soup plates and top each portion with scallops and a bit of any pan juices that remain.

Sprinkle with chives and enjoy right away.

Variation: If you don’t like or can’t get scallops, use rock shrimp. They can be prepared in the same way as scallops and need to be pulled off the heat the moment they lose their raw color.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “California Home Cooking.” Email her at

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