If renowned Maine chef and food writer Erin French isn’t yet on your radar, get acquainted with her now! Her recent cookbook, named for her storied restaurant, is packed with the recipes that made her famous. These seared scallops with grapefruit and fennel salad will freshen your shellfish repertoire right up!
Whereas raw scallops are sexy, soft, and delicate, their seared counterparts are meaty, juicy and rich. Cooked for mere seconds in a cast-iron pan and basted with butter (which melds with the scallops’ natural brine to make the easiest-ever pan sauce), seared scallops are the best party trick because you don’t have to stand at the stove for long to put out a dish that’s refined, bright and totally delicious. Serve as-is for a casual dinner or make smaller portions for an elegant starter or first course for eight to ten people.
- 1 fennel bulb, shaved
- 2 grapefruits, segmented, juice reserved
- 2 tablespoons Macerated Shallot Vinaigrette
- Handful purple mustard greens or arugula
- olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds day-boat sea scallops
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Macerated Shallot Vinaigrette (makes about 1/2 cup)
- 1 shallot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar, or enough to just cover the shallots
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- A couple twists pepper
For the vinaigrette
Combine the shallots and rice vinegar and allow to macerate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight. Whisk in the olive oil and pepper. You could store this in your fridge for up to a week, but you’ll get the freshest, brightest flavor if you use it within 24 hours.
For the scallops and salads
Make the salad by tossing the fennel and grapefruit segments with the macerated shallot vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Mound the mixture in the middle of a platter. Use the same bowl to dress the greens with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Use your hands — the greens should feel lightly coated. Scatter the greens on the platter around the fennel.
Lay the scallops on a paper towel to gently blot any excess moisture. Lightly salt the tops. Heat 2 large skillets, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat and pour 2 tablespoons olive oil into each. Arrange the scallops in the pans, salted-side down, so they’re not touching. Sear the scallops until golden brown, about a minute and a half. Sprinkle the scallops with salt, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to each skillet and cook for another minute, until the scallops are barely cooked through. Remove the pans from the heat and arrange the scallops on top of the salad. Drizzle with some of the pan juices and a bit of the reserved grapefruit juice.