Pan-Seared Scallops with Etti’s Herb Salad

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This is one of those meals that appears to be a simple dinner, but in reality does take a bit of work and a watchful eye. As both the salad and the scallops should be served immediately, it helps if you have 2 people in the kitchen- one can cook the scallops and the other can prepare the salad. If not, prepare the salad but don’t dress it, then keep the cooked scallops warm while you quickly dress the salad, then serve. Don’t let the extra prep time sway you, this is one of the best meals we’ve eaten in a while. The salad is one I’ve made many times and it has become my favorite salad. The scallops are simply browned in butter and salt and pepper-they literally melt in your mouth. Make sure not to overcook them, they will go from a pillowy cloud of heavenly goodness to a rubbery marshmallow. If using smaller scallops, turn off the heat as soon as your turn them, the residual heat will finish cooking them, 15-30 seconds longer. If using very large scallops, turn the heat to low once they have browned and continue cooking for 1 minute, then turn the scallops, raise the heat to medium, and cook them at least 2 minutes on the second side. Serve with a crisp white wine, or a rosé.

serves: 2
Etti’s Herb Salad from: Ottolenghi       Scallops from: The New Best Recipe

Salad

1 cup cilantro leaves
rounded ½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup dill leaves
½ cup or less tarragon leaves
rounded ½ cup basil leaves
1 cup arugula leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
heaping ½ cup whole almonds
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon olive oil

Gently immerse the herb leaves in plenty of cold water, being careful not to bruise them. Drain in a colander and then dry in a salad spinner or by spreading them over a clean kitchen towel. (Once dry, the herbs will keep in the fridge for up to 1 day. Store them in a sealed container lined with a few layers of paper towels.)

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Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the almonds, a healthy pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes over low to medium heat, until the almonds are golden. Transfer to a colander to drain, saving the butter that’s left and keep it warm. Once the almonds are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them.

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To assemble the salad, place the herbs in a large bowl. Add the almonds, cooking butter, lemon juice, and olive oil. Toss gently and season to taste, then serve immediately.

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Scallops

6 large sea scallops (about the size of a large marshmallow)
salt + pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

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If the scallops still have the tendon (small, rough-textured, crescent-shaped muscle that attaches the scallop to the shell) remove them, as they will toughen when cooked. Use your fingers to peel the tendon away from the side of each scallop.

Sprinkle both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot, about 1 minute. Add the butter and swirl to coat the pan bottom. Continue to heat the pan until the butter begins to turn golden brown.

Place the scallops in the pan, flat-side down. Cook, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the butter from burning, until the scallops are well browned, 1 ½ to 2 minutes. Using tongs, turn the scallops one at a time.

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Cook until medium-rare (the sides have firmed up and all but the middle third of the scallop is opaque), 30 seconds to 1 ½ minutes longer, depending on the size. Transfer the scallops to a plate and serve immediately with the herb salad.

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