This was a 'this is absolutely fantastic' dinner! I knew I wanted to make scallops for our dinner and found the recipe (I should say recipes) in "Stir" by Barbara Lynch, one of my favorite new cookbook purchases. I was torn between the scallops on a bed of celery root puree and the scallops with sauce verte so I made both! The combination was 'absolutely fantastic'.
Celery root puree (aka celeriac) is a much healthier alternative to mashed potatoes and has a delicious flavor. The fresh herb 'sauce verte' is flavored with garlic, anchovy paste and capers to give the dish a bright burst of flavor and the toasted, chopped hazelnuts are a good source of protein and good Omega-3.
I seared the scallops on the stove using the flat side of my cast iron griddle that I also use for searing fish on the grill outdoors. Dry scallops are important to get a good sear and they can't be crowded or they will steam and not sear.
If you enjoy scallops, I hope you give this 'absolutely fantastic' dish a try!
Seared Sea Scallops with Celery Root Puree, Sauce Verte and Hazelnuts
Inspired by two recipes in Stir by Barbara Lynch
Freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of fresh chives
6 sprigs of fresh parsley, stems removed
4 sprigs of fresh tarragon, stems removed
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (sold in a tube in the canned seafood section of your store)
1 tablespoon capers, well rinsed
1 small shallot, chopped
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
1/2 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup milk (I used skim)
1-1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 pound (about 12) sea scallops, drained and dried very well with paper toweling. Removing as much moisture as possible from the scallops is essential for a good 'sear'.
For the sauce:
Fill a small saucepan 3/4 full of water, add some salt and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, fill a medium bowl with ice water. Add the chives, parsley and tarragon to the boiling water and allow to blanch for about 10 seconds. Remove immediately with a slotted spoon and place in the ice water to stop the cooking. Remove the herbs from the ice water and gently squeeze out excess moisture. Coarsely chop the herbs and place in a blender or food processor. Add the garlic, anchovy paste, capers, 1 teaspoon of salt, a few grinds of pepper and 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Puree until smooth. If too thick, add a little more oil. The sauce verte can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated, covered, and rewarmed before serving.
For the celery root puree:
Place celery root pieces and milk in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer then cover and cook until the celery root is fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer the celery root and milk to the bowl of a food processor. Add the 1-1/2 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and puree. This can be prepared in the morning. chill covered, and rewarmed in the microwave before serving.
To toast the hazelnuts:
Heat the oven to 350F spread the nuts out on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven until fragrant and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
For the scallops:
To sear the scallops, heat the remaining olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the scallops in batches, leaving space between them so they sear and don't steam. You could also use a stove-top griddle for this. Allow them to cook, without turning, until very browned and crisp, about 1-2 minutes. Turn them over gently and sear another 1-3 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops.
Place 1/4 of the celery root puree on each of four serving plates. Divide scallops between four plates and season with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the sauce verte over and around each serving. Sprinkle the toasted hazelnuts on and around the scallops and serve.