My neighbor Colleene Preciado loves to cook. But initially our friendship wasn’t food fueled. My dog Bonnie has a crush on her American Eskimo dog, Rex. Walks by her home have always required an extended stays.

Colleene told me about her favorite scallop dish more than a year ago and I have been hankering to see how she prepares them ever since. The sauce is a simple puree of potatoes and cauliflower. Delicious and healthful – 232 calories per serving (without the carrots and snow peas).

She tries to stick to dishes that are 1/3 protein and 2/3 brightly colored vegetables. No wonder … in shorts she looks like an athletic teenager.

She is the retired chief probation officer of Orange County. She has always loved to cook, but now has more time to really dig in. Leftovers provide her police officer husband, Al, with delectable take-to-work lunches.

The recipe is from the Cooking Light magazine.

Colleene reserves some of the cooking liquid; whir-r-r-r-, she adds just enough back to make a smooth sauce-y mixture. OK, she isn’t a supper saint. Sometimes she adds grated sharp cheddar cheese to the blender before pureeing.

Be sure to pat scallops dry with paper towels. Don’t crowd the pan; there needs to be space between the scallops. Colleene buys her luscious scallops at Santa Monica Seafood in Costa Mesa.

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
Yield: 4 servings
2 cups chopped fresh cauliflower (small) florets
1 cup cubed, peeled Yukon gold potatoes or white rose potatoes
1 cup water
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided use
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
For serving: cooked carrots and snow peas with fresh chopped herbs such as tarragon or basil
1. Bring first 4 ingredients to boil in saucepan; cover, reduce heat and simmer 6 minutes or until potato is tender. Remove from heat. Let stand, uncovered, 10 minutes.
2. Heat large skillet or grillpan on high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness is reached (do not overcook). Remove scallops from pan.
3. Pour cauliflower mixture in a blender, reserving about 1/4 of liquid. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, butter and red pepper flakes. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure lid on blender and place a clean towel over opening in lid to avoid splatters. Blend until smooth, adding back as much of reserved liquid required to make a smooth, sauce-like mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Source: adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Colleene started her college career at Orange Coast College as a marine biology major. After volunteering for a semester at the L.A. probation department she discovered that she really loved that work, so she changed her major.

Her recipes are on her iPad.

Remind me never to show her what a jumble my recipe collection is in. It would take a brigade of sleepless elves to get my hodgepodge in order.

Do you have a favorite dish? Let me know about it (