Scallops with Pea Puree and Pancetta

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by Amy Flanigan on May 17, 2010 · 29 comments

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.

Let’s rejoice.

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
Serves 2
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)

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa March 26, 2011 at 7:31 pm

This was OUTRAGEOUSLY good. No words.


Amy March 27, 2011 at 7:02 am

I know. Crazy good…sigh. Thanks, Melissa :D


Amy May 21, 2010 at 12:44 am

Dad – The other day I asked Haley if she has seen my phone. She replied, “You mean your Blackberry?”

Daphne – Hopefully there will be many more scallop dishes in my future. We shall see.

Juliana – Thanks! Nice to see you here…thanks for stopping by!


Juliana May 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Wow, this scallop dish looks delicious paired with peas…great picture as well :-)


daphne May 20, 2010 at 9:48 am

hehe I love how u and your dad has banters on your blog! LOL

But the scallops looks awesomely (no such word?) grilled. Perfecto I think.. yum yum! I recall the time when hubs lost his job too.. oh that really stretches out creativity!


Dad May 20, 2010 at 2:52 am

Greg, thanks for the compliment. Note, however, that since she never answers her cell phone, Amy and I share batter, not banter. Four kids with call waiting and caller ID. I don’t get no respect. (I’m going to teach Haley and Trevor how to handle Blackberries of the electronic kind, heh, heh.)


Dad May 20, 2010 at 2:28 am

Amy, what is “unnecessary chocolate?” Is that one of those oxymorons?


Amy May 19, 2010 at 9:33 pm

Greg – What a nice thing to say. Ya, my Dad…he’s practically an extension of my blog. All my long time followers love him. He should really have his own category. If you enjoy gorgeous nature shots, check out his amazing photography, here

Natasha – Thanks!


5 Star Foodie May 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

What a terrific pairing of scallops with salty pancetta and sweet pea puree! Sounds heavenly!


sippitysup May 19, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Amy first let me say these scallops look perfect. Crispy outside succulent inside. I like plenty of “crust” too with out overcooking. I can tell by looking you have accomplished this. Second> I love your Dad’s comments. I mean it. I Just love the banter you two share. GREG


Amy May 19, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Amanda – Hello, hello! So glad to see you here. Ya…the Bon Jovi meet-n-greet was such a let down. It was many years ago when Jon was promoting his new film, U-571, and that’s pretty much all he wanted to talk about with his band and press. He completely ignored the fans and was very arrogant. Not at all friendly and engaging as I had expected. Perhaps I/we caught him on an off day.

As for the scallops, they are not difficult to prepare! I swear. The key is to make sure they are as dry as possible, so they achieve that brown crust while searing. And be careful not to over-cook them or they will become rubbery. Yes, this recipe is more involved then I usually publish, but it’s still easy, just requiring more steps. Having said that, if you’re not into scallops, then this recipe probably won’t change your mind.


Amanda May 19, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Not to take away from your delicious looking scallops, but as quite the Bon Jovi fan I’m sorry to hear that you had a less than satisfactory experience. I doubt I’ll ever get to meet them, but from what I hear they’re usually very good with their fans.

Now, back to the scallops. They’re not usually my seafood of choice, and I’ve never tried to prepare them myself, but you make doing so seem much more accessible and achievable. I might just have to try it sometime.


Amy May 18, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Jude – You guys would love this. Chopper could still make it with the pancetta, but only sprinkle it on his portion.

Samantha – Really glad you stopped by, anyway!


Samantha May 18, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Wish I liked scallops. That picture certainly makes me want to like them.


Jude May 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Scallops! Mmmm. So perfect this time of year with a glass of crisp white.

The peas sounds savory. But when Chopper the Cook makes this for me he’ll be leaving out the pancetta. Pigs don’t fly in my house.


Amy May 18, 2010 at 11:32 am

Dad – Hey, I never said this was low cal! And sometimes I (and my hips) am willing to make the sacrifice. I think the only reason I exercised through both pregnancies, was knowing I had to lose the baby weight, since I couldn’t afford new outfits. As far as the checkbook – it’s probably hidden from you because Mom knows you would be buying scallops (and unnecessary chocolate) every day. See, she’s doing you a favor ;-)


Dad May 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

First of all, scallops and smooshed peas with ham — let’s call a spade a spade — must have enough calories (after the second helping) that I would be literally carrying IT around with me for a year. I’ve had these individually, and they’re scrumptious. Put them all together, and they spell heaven.

Second, New Zealand is highly overrated, not quite as much as Hawaii, but it will be there for you in 20 years when you leave the kids alone, and you and Paul go hiking with sheep. And by that time, Erica Jong will have the 15th edition of “Fear of Flying” only by then it will actually be about fear of flying, and she’ll have solutions for this 12-hour flight for you (with a stopover in Los Angeles of all places).

Third, you complain that you have overworn 1995 clothes ensembles. It’s doubtful that anyone reading this blog has ever used clothes so effectively, and not had to consign them, tags intact. And I had no idea that a T-shirt and coveralls was an “ensemble,” but you were adorable in them anyway. AND you got to wear them before and after having the kids.

Last, I’d marry your mother all over again, and not just for her cooking ability. Maybe I would get to know where the hell the checkbook is.


Amy May 18, 2010 at 9:48 am

Dani – The day that I can afford to cook (and write about) lobster will be a momentous occasion! One can dream…

Lora – Not out of your league! This actually wasn’t difficult…just several steps. Having said that, I totally get the kid thing. Mine wouldn’t go near this with a ten foot pole. But I knew that going in. And guess what? Paul doesn’t like peas either. Maybe subconsciously those are the reasons why this recipe was on hold for so long. Hm.

Mom – Dad would marry you all over again if you made this.


Mom May 18, 2010 at 9:23 am

This really looks good and will definitely try, especially since we haven’t had scallops in quite some time.


Lora (Tripping with Kids) May 18, 2010 at 5:18 am

These look out of my league. Like something I could order in a great restaurant. I would have a dish all to myself. Not sure they will see my kitchen, though. My kids will never go for scallops and my hubby hates peas. Now that they have risen to fame (from your blog, of course) I hope they don’t get too pretentious, like so many of those high falluting scallops before them.


Dani H May 18, 2010 at 4:24 am

{{I don’t like scallops, she says timidly.}} But I love you and your blog! I’m of the group that doesn’t like the texture of scallops, shark, calamari. But I’ll be your biggest fan when you do a post on lobster, shrimp, salmon or halibut. I promise. Have a great week, Amy!


Amy May 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Angie – Thanks! Glad you stopped by.

Lisa – Lucky! I actually used to fantasize about living in Maryland, just so I could eat their crab cakes all the time.

Joanne – Now that I think about it, I guess you haven’t ever posted about or mentioned scallops before. Seems like a lot of people love shrimp and lobster, but not scallops, abalone, or calamari. Must be a texture thing? I love them all, I do.


Joanne May 17, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever felt this way about scallops. Salmon. Maybe. Bread pudding. Definitely. But not scallops.

I’m so glad it lived up to your expectations though. It would have been a severe tragedy if it hadn’t. And I’m also glad that Paul has some clients. Now maybe you won’t have to wait another year before having this :P

It looks delicious!


Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary May 17, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Wow. I’m bookmarking this and I promise not to hold on to it and move it from room to room, lol. Luckily I live in the Ocean State so seafood is pretty afordable here. I’m so making this. Looks delicious. It’s always great when a recipe turns out even better than you expected.


Angie May 17, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Looks great, I love the peas, so fresh


Amy May 17, 2010 at 10:53 am

Karen – Thanks! I know…I totally want this again right now, too. I have no idea when I’ll be able to make it again either. Waaa.

Maryann – I have a ton of recipes that have been let downs too, so you can imagine my delight when this turned out as fabulous as I had dreamed about.

Stephanie – It was the entire band. I met them years ago. They were all pretty full of themselves. My kids wanted no part of this, but I just didn’t care. I had a back up all ready for them. And I tuned the whole world out as I enjoyed every single bite. Ha!


Stephanie May 17, 2010 at 10:46 am

There are so many celebs on my want-to-meet list but I just know that they would never measure up the fantasy I have built in my head. What a complete drag about Bon Jovi. Was it just him or the entire band? This dish looks so gorgeous. I could never get my kids on board though. But mostly because of the peas, not the scallops. They wouldn’t care how pretty it is.


Maryann May 17, 2010 at 10:35 am

I have a few recipes like that, Amy – they make my heart swoon after finally making them. I also have several recipes that I held onto for a long time that turned out so mediocre. I’m so glad this didn’t let you down. I’m also glad your food budget finally has room for scallops. I love them too. My husband doesn’t though so I don’t ever make them.


Karen May 17, 2010 at 8:17 am

I have never wanted seafood at 8am so badly in my life. Good lord, that looks good. And beautiful.


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