Welp, in typical Chicago fashion, Mother Nature has dumped a few more inches of snow across the city even though it’s technically Spring. Never fails, there’s always one last wintry slap in the face, and today is as good a day as any. While Mother Nature is dealing with her personality disorder, you can bring a little Spring into your kitchen with this dish.
I wasn’t totally sure how I’d make this vegetarian friendly without just serving up a plate of the mash and saying “bon appetit”. Looking around the kitchen, I spotted some potatoes on the counter and decided I would make “scalloped” potatoes for Terry. I cut them down to what a decent sized scallop would be, parboiled, then pan seared them to get the browned edges and finished them off in the oven. They actually looked better than my real scallops and I was proud of myself for being so clever. I had to use bay scallops because nobody had anything bigger, and they don’t sear up as good as larger ones, so I wasn’t able to get the browned caramelized color on them. But they tasted just fine.
Now let’s talk about the mash. Holy moly, it is so good, and light! The flavors all work so well together. I’m always surprised when I use mint in a savory dish how subtle it ends up being and how much depth it can add. The mash on its own would make a really good topping for a canapé. Just spread it over a crostini and there you go. The chive oil adds a nice touch, but you could probably skip it if you wanted to save a few bucks on the herbs. Plus, you’ll have a lot left over and I’m currently figuring out how I can use it before it goes bad.
Even if I did get the larger scallops, I don’t know that I’d find this a satisfying entrée dish. I think this will work much better as an appetizer or hors d’oeuvre and that’s how I plan to serve this the next time around.
Recipe from Food & Wine
- 2 cups chopped chives (4 ounces)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Kosher salt
RICOTTA AND SPRING PEA MASH
- 1 1/2 cups baby peas
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
- 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 12 extra-large sea scallops (about 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- MAKE THE CHIVE OIL Fill a medium bowl with ice water. In a medium saucepan of boiling water, blanch the chives for 10 seconds. Drain, then transfer to the ice bath to cool. Drain well. Squeeze out as much water from the chives as possible and pat dry.
- In a blender, puree the chives with the canola oil until smooth. Strain the chive oil through a fine sieve into a bowl, pressing on the solids. Season the chive oil with salt.’
- MAKE THE MASH In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the peas just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes; drain well and pat dry. Using a fork, mash the peas until chunky. Stir in the olive oil, mint, Parmigiano, basil, shallot, lemon juice and garlic. Fold in the ricotta and season with salt and pepper.
- COOK THE SCALLOPS In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add 6 to the skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until golden and just opaque throughout, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining olive oil and scallops.
- Spoon the mash onto plates and arrange the scallops around it. Drizzle with the chive oil and serve with lemon wedges.
- For the potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 375 F
- Heat a pot with water while you prep the potatoes.
- Use 2 large russet potatoes, peel and cut into 1” cylinders. Trim away the edges until you get a size you like.
- Boil the potatoes for 3-4 minutes until al dente in the center.
- Heat a skillet with olive oil or clarified butter and sear the potatoes until golden brown on each end.
- Put the pan with the potatoes in the oven and finish baking until potatoes are cooked through, approx. 6 – 8 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve.
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