Dinner Tonight: Seared Sea Scallops with Gingered Pea Purée and Cilantro Gremolata

April  5, 2016

When was the last time your Tuesday night dinner had a title with 18 syllables? Don't be intimidated by the name: This springy dish can be on the table in well under an hour (and with a minimal shopping list, to boot). But just because it can be prepared in a home kitchen doesn't mean it couldn't be found on a restaurant menu. Tender scallops sit atop a pea purée that Amanda and Merrill call "punchy" and "exciting"; a bit of quick chopping yields a gremolata that is "lemony" and "herbaceous."

And unlike restaurant versions, it's also very open to substitutions. Not into cilantro? Bright, fresh parsley would be perfectly fine. Too early for fresh peas? Frozen are totally doable. Whichever way you make it, your diners family members are sure to be impressed.

Grocery List:
(Organized by area of the market)

  • 2 cups shelled English peas (or frozen peas, if fresh haven't hit your markets yet)
  • Small nub of ginger
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 16 large sea scallops, about 1 1/2 pounds

We're assuming you already have olive oil, a lemon, 2 garlic cloves, and cayenne pepper. If not, add those to your list!

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The Game Plan:

About 35 minutes before dinner, bring 4 cups salted water to a boil in a large saucepan; add the peas, cook until tender, and drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Combine peas, 1/4 cup reserved water, a clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne in a food processor. Purée until smooth, adding more water as necessary to reach a nice consistency, noting that the purée shouldn't be too thin. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

Chop 1 cup of cilantro, mince a clove of garlic, and grate 2 tablespoons of lemon zest. Combine together in a small bowl with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper—that's your gremolata.

About 10 minutes before dinner, pat the scallops dry and sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the scallops, taking care not to overcrowd in the pan. Cook, turning once, until brown on both sides and just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, then repeat with remaining scallops.

Right before sitting down, spoon the pea purée onto plates, top with scallops, and sprinkle with gremolata. Drizzle lightly with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.

See the full version of this recipe here.

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Annie Crabill

Written by: Annie Crabill