Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sautéed Scallops with Lemon Hummus & Diced Olives

There are few main courses as elegant or as simple as a dish of sautéed sea scallops. Sweet and tender, the best way to cook these plump, meaty scallops is to sear them quickly in a hot pan so that the outside get a lovely crisp, brown crust and the inside remain succulent and moist. The crowning glory of this dish is nestling the little darlings on a creamy pillow of homemade Lemon Hummus, which compliments the subtle sweet richness of the golden scallops perfectly. Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, have the ability to carry the simple, bold flavours of the lemon, garlic and olive oil effortlessly. A garnish of chopped olives add a rich fruity note to the dish, and although pitted olives are often easier to use, I prefer 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.

Sautéed Scallops with Lemon Hummus & Olives
Serves 4 as a light main course

For the Hummus: Makes about 2 cups
2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp salt 

For the Vinaigrette:
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
6 tbsp light olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

For the Scallops:
12 fresh jumbo dry sea scallops
2 tsp unsalted butter2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp green or black olives, with pits, sliced thin
mixed greens

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

For the vinaigrette, whisk together all of the ingredients until lightly emulsified, then cover until ready to use.

Pat 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 5 minutes total. 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 hummus. Garnish with sliced olives and mixed greens, tossed in a light vinaigrette.

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