Sea Scallops with Puy Lentils and Fennel Cream

April 15, 2010
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is my spin on a restaurant dish I had a few years back that paired scallops with lentils, an apple cider reduction, and a mascarpone was delicious. I've always loved earthy flavors with my scallops, and particularly like Puy lentils which have such a lovely bite to them. The smoky bacon and the sharp mustard are a nice play against the sweetness of the scallops, and as for the fennel cream....what doesn't taste better with a little fennel cream? - Oui, Chef —Oui, Chef

Test Kitchen Notes

The delicate, sweet flavor of scallops is perfectly matched with this fennel cream, itself loaded with sweet fennel flavor and very pure in texture from the fine straining (eating the cream with a spoon, as commenters have fantasized about below, would not be out of the question). The lentils are richly flavored with fennel and hints of dijon throughout, with occasional thrilling bites of lardon. Don't neglect to season them at early stages and to taste at the end. Note: I used a mix of 1 tablespoon each butter and olive oil to sear the scallops, which worked nicely without smoking so long as I kept the heat below full-blast. - Kristen —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • For the Lentils
  • 3/4 cup Lentils du Puy, or French green lentils
  • 1 carrot, cut in small dice
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, cut in small dice (completely dice a full bulb of fennel, 1/2 will be used here for the lentils, the other half will be used for the fennel cream)?
  • 1 shallot, finely minced?
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced?
  • 1/4 pound of slab bacon, cut into lardons?
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 teaspoons dijon mustard (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups water
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 12 Large Sea Scallops (technically these aren't part of the lentils recipe, but I wanted to make sure they got onto the ingredient list, this recipe calls for 3 large per person, use more or less as desired
  • For the Fennel Cream
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, cut in small dice
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed fennel seed
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • reserved fennel fronds for garnish
  • zest of 1 lemon, micro-planed
  1. Rinse the lentils with cold water, check for pebbles or other debris and set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of pan, then add the chopped shallot, garlic, fennel, and carrot. Turn heat to medium low and cook gently until softened and just starting to take color. Add the lentils, water and bay leaf, turn flame to high and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and gently cook for 25-30 minutes, until most (if not all) of the water has evaporated and the lentils are cooked just to al dente.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, cook the lardons over medium heat until nicely browned and slightly crisp, but don’t render all their fat, you want them with a little chew. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
  3. You can also make the fennel cream while the lentils are cooking. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, cook garlic, fennel, fennel seed, and shallot in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the wine, turn up the heat and reduce until almost all the liquid is gone. Add the stock and reduce in the same manner. Add the cream and reduce by half, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour the cream into a blender and mix on high until very smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a small pan, season to taste with salt and pepper and cover to keep warm.
  4. When the lentils have finished cooking, strain away any excess water and return the lentils to the saucepan, removing the bay leaf at this time. Add the lardons to the lentils, along with the mustard and butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm by the stove.
  5. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches if needed, melt 1 tablespoon butter per batch with oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  6. Divide lentils among 4 plates. Arrange 3 scallops atop lentils on each plate. Spoon fennel cream around lentils and scallops and serve decorated with a fresh fennel fond, and micro-planed lemon zest.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • WinnieAb
  • MyCommunalTable
  • TasteFood
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • lastnightsdinner
I am a father of five, who recently completed a two year professional hiatus during which I indulged my long held passion for cooking by moving to France to study the culinary arts and immerse myself in all things French. I earned “Le Grande Diplome” from Le Cordon Bleu, studied also at The Ritz Escoffier and Lenotre cooking schools, and completed the course offerings of the Bordeaux L’Ecole du Vin. About six months ago started "Oui, Chef", which is a food blog that exists as an extension of my efforts to teach my children a few things about cooking, and how our food choices over time effect not only our own health, but that of our local food communities and our planet at large. By sharing some of our cooking experiences through the blog, I hope to inspire other families to start spending more time together in the kitchen, cooking healthy meals as a family, passing on established familial food traditions, and perhaps starting some new ones.

17 Reviews

neighome March 16, 2012
I tried this last night. It was wonderful! My friend and I cleaned our plates. I thought the fennel cream was tasty and looked pretty on the plate, but it was not essential, as most of the flavors in the cream are also in the lentils. So if I'm short on time next time I make this (and it will definitely be made again in my house) I might skip the fennel cream. I added a light sprinkle of fennel pollen to the finished plate since I had it on hand. Thank you Oui, Chef!
Oui, C. March 17, 2012
That's terrific! I'm so glad you liked it, and thanks for letting me know. Cheers - S
Le_commis July 19, 2011
hello, I know this site recently. this is the first of your recipes that I did. I just returned from my trip to "Bretagne" and I brought with me the scallops, so I took this nice recipe for cooking a nice product. This is a huge success. Merci chef!
WinnieAb April 21, 2010
How did I miss this? Looks wonderful...
Oui, C. April 22, 2010
Thanks, Winnie. Hey, I've been gone for so long, you probably forgot my name. It's nice to be back.
clintonhillbilly April 18, 2010
the fennel cream alone makes me want to make this...
Oui, C. April 22, 2010
You have good instincts, it really is the key!
MyCommunalTable April 16, 2010
I had fennel and cream on hand. I made your fennel cream with my roasted chicken and fingerling potatoes tonight. I stuck some fennel and lemon in the cavity of the chicken. It all worked out well. Thanks for the inspiration.
Oui, C. April 17, 2010
You're welcome. I bet it's great with chicken. In fact, part of my inspiration for the cream came from a morel cream sauce that I had served to me with chicken at a fabulous restaurant in Burgundy a few years back. I had to ask for extra bread to sop it all up.
TasteFood April 16, 2010
Great flavor and texture combination. I especially love the idea of the fennel cream - can I just eat that with a spoon?
Oui, C. April 17, 2010
Of course you can! I know this because I had a go at it myself the other night with a spoon. If I were you I'd use a soup spoon, I found that a teaspoon just didn't get the job done.
TheWimpyVegetarian April 16, 2010
I love scallops, lentils and fennel together! This looks like a great recipe!
Oui, C. April 16, 2010
Thanks, Suzanne.
lastnightsdinner April 16, 2010
This looks and sounds fantastic. I love scallops and lentils together, and the fennel cream just knocks this out of the park. Wow.
Oui, C. April 16, 2010
Thanks! The cream is so good that I thought long and hard this morning about how I could incorporate it into my breakfast.
Merrill S. April 16, 2010
Welcome back, Oui, Chef!
Oui, C. April 16, 2010
Thanks, Merrill. It's nice to be back, and I look forward to getting caught up on all the good food that's been happening here while I've been gone. Cheers - S