Scallops with Basil Sweet Pea Puree, Pancetta & Balsamic Cipollini Onions

Spring has sprung in New England. I went to a farm stand for the first time since October this past weekend. There’s something weirdly magical about the first time driving to the farm stand after a long winter and thawing spring.

This time I picked up some fresh sweet peas and basil that was so aromatic, the scent perfumed my car as I drove home.

With the sweet peas and basil, I wanted to make a springtime dish that was light and fragrant. I got beautiful large sea scallops from my local fish market (the scallops were caught hours before!) and seared them in a hot pan for a beautiful mahogany crust on the outside, while maintaining a tender interior.

I blended together butter and onion with the peas and basil to make a smooth, springtime pea puree, and topped the puree with crispy pancetta bits and balsamic roasted Cipollini onions.

This dish is a true ode to springtime in New England: fresh seafood, fresh produce, and aromatic, refreshing flavors.

 

 

 

Makes: 4 scallops for 4 people

Prep time: 15 minutes 

Cook time: 50 minutes

Total time: 1 hour and 5 minutes

The Ingredients

16 large sea scallops

1 ¼ sweet peas (frozen or fresh)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

1 small sweet onion, roughly chopped

½ cup fresh basil

~12 Cipollini onions

4 ounces diced pancetta

Balsamic vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

 

 

The Steps

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To roast cipollini onions: Toss Cipollini onions in a bit of olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet, and bake until the bottom of the onions are golden and the onions are soft, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Add good quality balsamic vinegar just until the onions are coated. Let onions soak for 20 minutes. Drain onions (don’t rinse), and set aside.

To cook peas: while onions are soaking, steam peas (covered) for 4-5 minutes in an inch of water. Drain and set aside.

For pancetta: while onions are soaking, In a small skillet, sauté the pancetta in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan and set aside.

For pea purée: In a blender or food processor, add cooked peas, ¼ cup water, 4 tablespoons butter, onion, basil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add a bit more water if the puree is too thick. Set aside.

For seared scallops: In a heavy bottomed skillet, add rest of butter (4 tablespoons) and turn heat to high. When the butter starts to brown and bubble, add scallops a few inches apart for even browning. Cook scallops on the first side for about 3 minutes until the scallops have a golden crust. Flip scallops onto the second side and cook for 1 minute. Scallops should be just warm in the center and still a bit jiggly to the touch!

To plate: spoon puree onto plates, making a bed of puree for the scallops. Add scallops on top of puree. Add Cipollini onions around the scallops, and sprinkle pancetta bits. If you have any leftover basil, garnish plates with basil. Serve immediately (with an unoaked chardonnay!).

 

 

 

The Steps with Pictures

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

To roast cipollini onions: Toss Cipollini onions in a bit of olive oil. Place on a cookie sheet, and bake until the bottom of the onions are golden and the onions are soft, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Add good quality balsamic vinegar just until the onions are coated. Let onions soak for 20 minutes. Drain onions (don’t rinse), and set aside.

To cook peas: while onions are roasting, steam peas (covered) for 4-5 minutes in an inch of water. Drain and set aside.

For pancetta: while onions are roasting, in a small skillet, sauté the pancetta in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove pancetta from pan and set aside.

For pea purée: In a blender or food processor, add cooked peas, ¼ cup water, 4 tablespoons butter, onion, basil, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. Add a bit more water if the puree is too thick. Set aside.

For seared scallops: In a heavy bottomed skillet, add rest of butter (4 tablespoons) and turn heat to high. When the butter starts to brown and bubble, add scallops a few inches apart for even browning. Cook scallops on the first side for about 3 minutes until the scallops have a golden crust. Flip scallops onto the second side and cook for 1 minute. Scallops should be just warm in the center and still a bit jiggly to the touch!

To plate: spoon puree onto plates, making a bed of puree for the scallops. Add scallops on top of puree. Add Cipollini onions around the scallops, and sprinkle pancetta bits. If you have any leftover basil, garnish plates with basil. Serve immediately (with an unoaked chardonnay!).

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