This recipe and I have a relationship.
I’ve been carrying it around with me for almost a year.
I think it came into my life two days after Paul lost his job. Yes, two days. I remember. Because I immediately knew that my food budget was about to get a kick in the stomach. And this recipe would have to wait.
So, for the past year, I’ve been moving it from folder to folder, room to room. Staring at it, dreaming about it. Even talking to myself about it.
I would pass by the fish counter at the market…just to look. I would pause. Then move on – walk down the cereal isle. But of course that wasn’t comforting. I would make dishes with shrimp, hoping to suppress my scallop craving a while longer.
I was close to needing some serious consultation if I didn’t make it soon.
Well, we still won’t be going to New Zealand anytime in the near future (somehow I’m okay with this, though – I mean, how long is that flight? Gulp), or be able to replace my over-worn 1995 clothing ensembles, or even splurge on a new waffle maker. BUT, he’s brought in a couple of clients, affording me the luxury to buy scallops.
So, I made this recipe. I did. And you know what? It was divine.
The scallops were fresh and buttery, the pancetta was flavorful and salty, and the pea puree was sweet and gorgeous. It was absolutely, unequivocally marvelous.
And unlike the time I finally got to meet Bon Jovi, after two decades of yearning, only to discover he was an asshole – ya, unlike that time – the high expectations for this dish did not disappoint.
I love a happy ending.
Scallops with Pea Puree and Pancetta
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
• 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
• 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
• 2 medium shallots, finely chopped
• 3 ounces diced pancetta
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 cups frozen early sweet peas, thawed
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 12 medium sea scallops, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
• 1 tablespoon butter
In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and one tablespoon of shallot (known as Gremolata.) Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the pancetta until crispy and cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving some of the reserved fat in the pan. Set aside.
In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté the remaining shallots and garlic for about 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and broth and season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the contents to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency. Return the puree to the pan, along with the cooked pancetta, cover and set aside to keep warm.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter and the remaining olive oil over medium-high until very hot. Add scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, about 3 minutes per side.
On serving plates, arrange the scallops on top of the puree and sprinkle with the Gremolata.
Notes: While the pancetta does add an extra dimension of flavor to this dish, you could easily omit it, if you’re a fishetarian. You could also try using 1/2 cup water and 1/2 veggie stock, in place of the chicken broth.
(adapted from Fine Cooking)