Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata

Are you looking for something a little different without spending hours in the kitchen? Here is the ticket. This meal only took about 30 minutes including preparation time, and I was surprised at both the ease and elegance of this plate. This recipe comes straight from the pages of The Best Of Fine Cooking Fresh 2009 (pg. 53 to be exact). As you can see in the picture I have plenty of other recipes marked so don't be surprised when you see more from this magazine. I did go a bit over board with the gremolata though. I had never made it before. I wasn't even sure what it was, or what to do with it. Yes, that's why I call cooking a journey.

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Seared Scallops with Pea Puree, Crisp Pancetta, and Gremolata
~Serves 4 as an appetizer; 2 as main course

1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
3 Tbs. EVOO, more for drizzling
1 tsp. 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 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
12 medium all-natural "dry"sea scallops (not soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1) Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 F (I used my toaster oven)

2) Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-qt saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 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 frozen).

3) Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the puree to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm. (This is why I own an Immersion Blender - I blended the peas right in the small pot).

4) 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 Tbs. shallots and set aside.

5) 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. Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

6) Portion the warm pea puree among serving plates. Arrange the scallops on the puree and crumble the pancetta on top. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.


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