the scallops arrived at my door on a dreary winter’s morning, overnighted from catalina seafood in san diego. they were the huge dry diver scallops – 6 to a lb. and just as beautiful as i’d ever seen. i had decided upon another sardinian recipe by my new bff chef efisio farris (i’m currently on a roll). you see, i’ve been in a bit of a scallop rut. i buy them. i sear them. and then usually just throw them on top of a salad. if i’m feeling semi ambitious i might puree a well steamed head of cauliflower with some fresh thyme and olive oil and plop a few scallops on that. because to me, scallops usually mean a cook-free, no fuss dinner. they are just SO EASY. and the best ones are perfectly delicious with just a good sear.
but this recipe spoke to me. i had both fregola, a small toasted pasta and some saffron in the cupboard along with some freshly made chicken stock in the fridge, so all i had to do was make a quick produce run.
if you want to know how to perfectly sear a scallop, the secret is to begin with some of these beauties… never frozen, firm and plump and HUGE. just get the pan very hot, add some butter or olive oil – or both, and sear away until nicely caramelized. if they look white as snow and ooze liquid, chances are they’ve been soaked in phosphates making it nearly impossible for them to brown without overcooking. they’ll also shrink up and not have much flavor. something to perhaps ask your fishmonger before you buy. of course here in nashville the closest thing we have to a fishmonger is the guy behind the counter at whole foods. oh, the cost of living landlocked…
it’s a beautiful presentation. the sear of the scallops with the saffron and bits of tomato and arugula. pretty food. but the sweetness of the honey against the salt of the scallops and the peppery arugula are what will make you fall…
pan-seared scallops with fregula and roasted vegetables
adapted from sweet myrtle and bitter honey by efisio farris
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup fregola (you could substitute israeli couscous if you had to)
1 bay leaf
1 pinch saffron
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
2 green onions, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
12 diver scallops
1 bunch of arugula, chopped
1 tablespoon abbamele (i used honey)
in a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. add fregula, bay leaf, saffron, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes. all liquid should be absorbed by the fregula.
heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. saute green onions, shallot and celery for 2 to 3 minutes. add zucchini, squash and tomato and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. combine fregula and vegetables and cook on low heat for another minute. add additional stock or hot water if it seems too dry.
in another skillet heat remaing 2 tablesppons of oil and cook scallops until golden and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. turn and brown the other side.
divide fregola mixture among 4 plates and top with the arugula, or you can use the arugula as a bed for the fregula. top each with 3 scallops.
finish by drizzling honey and some good olive oil.
again, it’s the ingredients. everything that went into this dish was at its best. the scallops from catalina ocean products were truly beyond wonderful.
and you see? it’s a 20 minute dinner. just add some good bread and a bottle of wine, and you’re amazing!
but i knew that already…