Monday, January 28, 2013

Pan Seared Scallops with White Bean Purée & Rapini

There are few main courses as elegant or simple, as a dish of Seared Sea Scallops. Sweet, tender, mild and delectable, the less you fuss with scallops, the better they taste. The best way to cook these plump, meaty scallops is to sear them quickly in a hot pan so that the outsides get a lovely crisp, brown crust and the insides remain tender and moist. The crowning glory of this dish is nestling the little darlings on a creamy pillow of homemade White Bean Purée, which compliments the subtle richness of the seared scallops perfectly. 

White Italian kidney beans, or cannellini, have the ability to carry the simple, bold flavours of the lemon, garlic and olive oil effortlessly. Whipped into a beautiful silky lemony White Bean Purée, this dish is a wonderful and simple accompaniment to the luscious butteriness of the seared sea scallops. A garnish of chopped olives add a rich fruity note to the dish, and although pitted olives are often easier to use, I recommend using unpitted olives in this recipe, as they have more flavour and texture. For such simple ingredients, the flavours of this dish mingle incredibly well, with a bright and assertive character that makes this recipe a true modern classic.

Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with White Bean Purée & Sautéed Rapini
Serves 2

6 sea scallops
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

White Bean Purée:
2 cups canned white beans, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt

Sautéed Rapini:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch rapini, rinsed well and chopped coarsely
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the white bean purée, place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until silky smooth, If you wish to use less oil but still want a smooth texture, replace some of the oil with the cooking liquid from the canned beans. I like to make the purée shortly before grilling the scallops, so it's still slightly warm from the food processor. However, the purée should be refrigerated if it's made ahead of time, and returned to room temperature prior to serving.

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add big handfuls of rapini along with a pinch each of salt and pepper, stirring well. When greens are wilted, add 2 tablespoons of water, cover the pot, and steam for about 10 minutes, until the greens are tender. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.

To serve, pat the scallops dry and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the foam subsides, then sear the scallops, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, while still being translucent in the centre, about 2 minutes per side, until they are caramelized and cooked to your desired doneness. Transfer to a platter and keep warm until all of the scallops have been cooked. Serve the scallops immediately, three per guest, nestled on a puddle of white bean purée. Garnish with sliced olives, sautéed rapini and a few leafy greens.

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