Wednesday, May 4, 2011

spring on a plate

There's been a lot of talk about spring around here, I know. It was just such a long winter, guys. You have no idea. (Or maybe you live in New York and you do.) And now the trees are back and bright green things are starting to reappear at the markets again. People are strolling around in sandals. And it's glorious. (Well, not today. Today it is raining. And that's part of spring too.)

And there are these scallops, lightly seared and served in a pool of pale green, herby cream sauce. The dish is so light and delicate there's no better time to make it than right now. Sure, you could eat it in the summer or fall, but something about it feels so spring.

The original recipe, by Jennifer Hess of Last Night's Dinner, calls for spring onions, tarragon, and crème fraiche. I made a few tweaks, namely using scallions instead of green onions because I couldn't find them anywhere. I think their short window is already closing. I also substituted Greek yogurt for the crème fraiche, which I don't think makes a bit of difference, other than calorie-wise. Another tiny change: a bit of lemon juice in the sauce because I think everything tastes better with a little acid.

I made this for an Easter Sunday dinner with some roasted asparagus (which pairs really well with the sauce) and wild rice. Even though Dan and I ate our scallops sitting on the floor in our pajamas, it certainly felt special. It would be perfect as a main course for an actual dinner party, or in smaller portions as an elegant first course. A great bottle of white or sparkling wine wouldn't hurt a bit.

Seared scallops with tarragon cream sauce
By Last Night's Dinner via Food52. 
(Serves 4 as a light meal, or 6 to 8 as a very light first course)

1 lb. dry sea scallops
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup whole milk (I used 2 percent milk)
1 bunch spring onions, about ½ lb. (I used about eight scallions)
2 Tbsp. fresh tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, like canola
2 Tbsp. crème fraiche (or Greek yogurt)
1 lemon, juiced
Fresh chives for garnish, optional (extra tarragon would work too)
Salt and pepper

Place the scallops on a plate and refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

If using spring onions, separate the green tops from the bulbs. Dice the bulbs and roughly chop the greens. If using scallions, cut off the roots and bulbs, and roughly chop the green and light green parts.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped spring onions (or scallions) and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat to low, and cook 20-25 minutes, until very soft. Add the green tops, toss through, and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until soft but still bright green. (Skip this step if using scallions.)

Sprinkle the flour over the onions and cook for a minute or two. Raise the heat to medium and add the milk. Cook briefly, stirring, until thickened. Add the tarragon and stir, then remove from the heat and pour the mixture into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth, then return the sauce to the pan over low heat, cooking until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Remove the scallops from the refrigerator and season with a little salt. Pour the oil in the bottom of a sauté pan and warm over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the scallops, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Sear them about two minutes per side until they are nicely browned and caramelized. (I used a fork to flip them.) Set the scallops aside and keep them warm.

Whisk in the crème fraiche (or Greek yogurt) and lemon juice into the sauce off the heat, then spoon a little of the sauce on each plate and top with the scallops. Add a sprinkle of chives, if desired.


Anonymous said...

I like your tweaks-- especially the yogurt. Gotta try this soon, thanks.

Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

Scallops and pajamas?!?! DECADENCE, lady!

Daniel said...

Scallops & Pajamas is actually our restaurant franchise concept. Shh...

Lisa said...

Anony: Thanks! Hope you like it.

Casey: Ha, that's how we roll.

Daniel: Jeez, that is top secret info.

PSD To XHTML said...

Awesome !! that's good look and perfect posting for recipes .thanks


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