Scallops are one of my favorite seafood, for their fresh, sweet flavor and wonderful texture. However, it’s not always easy to find really fresh ones. So, when I do, I immediately buy some and then cook them the very same day, and as close to serving time as possible, as fresh scallops need very short cooking time, otherwise their texture will quickly turn rubbery.
In this recipe, I paired them with a creamy sauce, that is full of the wonderful sweet and smoky flavor of roasted red pepper, with light additional flavors of orange and rosemary. The sauce complements both flavor and texture of the scallops, adds just the right amount of acidity, to balance the richness of the dish, and beautiful color, to round it all out.
A few notes:
* A smaller portion can be served as an appetizer.
* I prefer the sauce to be a bit “rustic”. If you prefer smoother sauce, pass it through a fine sieve.
* The sauce also works well with pan-fried shrimps.
* For easier preparation, the sauce can be prepared ahead of time and reheated before serving.
* I served the dish with Israeli couscous, but polenta, or grits, are also wonderful sides for this dish.
* Leftover roasted peppers can be used in so many ways; it’s always worth it to prepare more than you need for the sauce. (Suggestions for use? add them to omelets, pasta dishes, savory muffins, or mix with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and serve on toasted baguette slices…)
Makes: 2 entree, 4 first course
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: roasted peppers: 30 minutes, sauce: 20 minutes, scallops: 5 minutes
For the Roasted Peppers:
3 medium red peppers
For the sauce
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, peeled and sliced
1 cup roasted red pepper – seedless, skinless (see instructions below)
2 cups heavy cream
A couple of orange zest strips
2 Tbs fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange blossom honey
1 small sprig rosemary
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash paprika and cayenne
For the scallops:
1 Tbs oil
1 Tbs butter
12 medium size fresh scallops, at room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1. The roasted peppers: preheat the oven to 380F (195C). Cut the peppers into quarters. Remove the seeds and white membranes. Line a roasting pan with baking paper and place the cut peppers in it, skin side up. Roast for 30 minutes. Transfer into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool to room temperature. Remove the skin and measure 1 cup.
(Toss the rest with olive oil and keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to a week.)
2. The sauce: in a medium size pot, combine the olive oil and sliced shallot. Heat over medium-high heat, until the shallots become transparent and soften. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the roasted pepper, mix and fry for a minute. Add the heavy cream, orange zest strips, orange juice, honey, rosemary, salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Mix and bring to an almost boil. Cook for about 12 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the cream thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Blend to a smooth sauce with a hand blender. Mix and adjust seasoning, if needed. Place back on the stove and cook for 2 more minutes.
(If you plan to prepare the sauce ahead, keep it, in an airtight container in the fridge, for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature and reheat gently, mixing occasionally, before using. )
3. The scallops: mix the oil and butter in a pan, large enough to contain all the scallops in one layer. Heat over medium-high heat until the butter starts to foam. Add the scallops, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and fry gently for 2-3 minutes, until the scallops are golden-brown on one side. Turn gently and fry for about 2 minutes longer. Serve with the sauce.