Seared Scallops with Pea Puree and Pancetta

Easy, elegant, and lush tasting.


Okay – before you say “No!” This is a SUPER easy and fast recipe.  The pea puree takes 5 minutes.  The pancetta takes about the same and all you have to do is put it in the oven.  The gremolata is just a quick chop — 2  minutes max?  And the scallops take 3 minutes per side — I cooked 14 in two batches.  The whole dish takes about 20 minutes.  And yes, I forgot to put the gremolata on top for the photo — I was racing to get dinner on the table!  Next time!!

Serves 4

  • a generous 1/2 cup of finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 very thin slices pancetta
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 16 medium all-natural “dry” diver scallops — super important that to buy DRY scallops — any other kind won’t brown well
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Set aside 1-1/2tablespoons of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-quart saucepan with 2 tablespoons of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes for fresh peas, 3 to 4 minutes for frozen.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and purée to a smooth consistency, adding a little water or chicken broth if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the purée to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm.

Put the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside in a warm spot.

In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1-1/2 tablespoons of shallots and set aside.

Pat the scallops dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. THE KEY HERE IS TO PUT THE SCALLOPS IN A SUPER-HOT PAN AND THEN DON’T MOVE THEM FOR AT LEAST 2 1/2 MINUTES — I know that is scary, but that’s how to get an excellent caramelization on the scallops.  Flip them once.  You know they’re done when they’re almost firm to the touch.Transfer to a plate.

Portion the warm pea purée among four dinner plates. Arrange the scallops on the purée and crumble the pancetta on top. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

From my favorite magazine — Fine Cooking, Issue 92

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