Scallops with Fennel Puree & Summer Vegetables
When I first started eating seafood (which really wasn’t until the last few years) scallops were one of my favorite things to make. They take so little time to cook and they can be unbelievably delicious when paired with just the right components. We hadn’t cooked a big Saturday night dinner in a few weeks so a couple weekends ago we decided to combine few different recipes to come up with this one. We use the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School for the fennel puree, just the vegetable component of THIS recipe and our own tried-and-true way to sear scallops. The puree takes a long time to make and yields only about 3/4 cup so I wish we would have made this ahead of time but it’s what makes the whole dish so it is well worth making! The creamy, anise flavor of the puree stands up well to the quick roasted summer vegetables and the wonderful texture of the scallops. Be sure to check out some of my other scallop recipes, I will link to them at the end of the post!
Start off by making the fennel puree, if you’re smart enough to make this ahead of time just stop after step 5 and store in an airtight container in the fridge overnight then just do step 6 when you’re ready to eat! Combine 2 fennel bulbs that have been trimmed and cut into about 1″ pieces with 3 cups whole milk or just enough to cover all the fennel (1). Bring to a boil over high heat then immediately reduce to a simmer and cook until no resistance is given when pierced with a fork, about 20-25 minutes. Strain and reserved the cooking liquid then combine the fennel and 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a blender (2). Blend on high until completely smooth, about 4 minutes, adding more of the milk if necessary (3). Place a sieve over a large bowl and pass the fennel puree through, pushing with a spatula to get as much as you can (4). Discard remaining solids, clean and dry the sieve, set it over a new bowl and pour the puree into the sieve. Let it sit in the sieve for one and a half hours to let any remaining liquid drip out (5)… you’re going to be using what’s in the sieve this time. Place in a saucepan over medium heat to warm, then stir in 2 tbsp butter and season with salt and pepper just before plating (6).
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and leave a baking sheet in the oven to heat up as well. Slice 1/2 green zucchini and 1/2 yellow zucchini into thin 4″ strips, slice an orange bell pepper into 1″ pieces and one small red onion into wedges. Toss all of that in a bowl with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (1) and spread out on the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 3 minutes, then add 1 cup cherry tomatoes and 3 garlic cloves that have been sliced thinly (2). Bake for 5-8 minutes more until the vegetables are lightly browned (3). While the veggies are cooking, heat a skillet over medium high heat with 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until it’s good and hot. Pat dry 1 lb scallops and season with salt and pepper. We like to score the tops of our scallops, it’s gets a much nicer sear that way so if you’d like do that by lightly drawing a cross-hatch pattern on the tops of the scallops with a knife (4) (don’t cut too deep or the scallops will fall apart). Place the scallops in the hot skillet, scored side down and cook for 2 minutes (5). Careful flip them over and sear for about 2 minutes more or until the scallops are slightly opaque (6). Serve with the fennel puree on the bottom, topped with the roasted veggies, add three or four scallops to the top and garnish with fennel fronds!
If this looks good, try making Coquilles St. Jacques à la Provençale (scallops gratinéed with wine, garlic and herb)… find the recipe HERE.
And if you want something a little lighter, try THIS recipe for seared scallops with a crisp shaved salad with grapefruit.
If you want to add a little heat to the dish, try THIS recipe for scallops and chorizo!