Seared Scallops with Modern Pesto over a bed of Couscous
Valentine's Day is around the corner and Local Provisions would like to unveil an elegant and memorable dish for you to enjoy with your loved one. In this recipe, we combine the nostalgic pesto sauce with a modern twist and scallops, one of New England's most iconic seafoods.
Chef Massimo Bottura, a three time Michelin star winner and the owner of Italy's top-rated restaurant - Osteria Francescana, has recently taken pesto to new heights as he has challenged conventional norms that have been in place for generations. We have adopted his pesto methodology by using breadcrumbs versus pine nuts. Our goal is to use ingredients that are in your refrigerator or pantry most of the time and affordable. We also believe by using breadcrumbs it enhances the basil flavor while making a more velvety texture that rests easily on the scallops when it comes to plating them.
To begin, we make our homemade breadcrumbs by using an old loaf of french or italian bread. We typically toast the bread for 2-3 minutes and then pulse it in a food processor until a crumb-like consistency. Next, we add the olive oil, basil, garlic, salt, and parmesan cheese and process until the texture is smooth and creamy. We would like to emphasize that everyone likes their pesto in different fashions, some with more basil and some with more parmesan. This is a perfect opportunity to not be confined by the measurements listed and test the ingredients to your liking. Once the pesto meets your expectations, set aside and begin the couscous. For the couscous, simply boil the pasta with butter and salt to elevate the flavor.
As the couscous is boiling, begin to prepare your scallops. When it comes to cooking scallops, we want them as dry as possible. After removing them from their pouch or container, pat dry and salt them. As the scallops continue to dry, heat the vegetable oil over medium/high heat in a stainless steel or cast iron frying pan. We use either of these frying pans as they sear the scallops best by conducting the heat from the stovetop in a great fashion. Once the oil begins to ripple, pat dry your scallops one final time and place them into the pan in a clockwise fashion. This will help you remember which scallops went in first and what order they need to be flipped in. As the scallops are searing, sprinkle salt and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top of each of them. After 2-3 minutes, peak at the side that is facing down to see if it has reached the golden brown color we are looking for. Once ready, flip the scallops and cook for an additional 2 minutes. The scallops will be complete when their meat provides some resistance and is opaque in the middle.
For plating, add the couscous to your plate and then the scallops on top. Finish by adding a small dollop of pesto on each of the pearls (scallops) you just seared. Season with salt and lemon juice and enjoy with your loved one!
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 30 mins
Seared Sea Scallops
- 1 lb. Sea Scallops
- 1 ½ Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
- Salt (Seasoning)
- 2 Lemon Wedges
- 1 ½ Ounce Basil (clam shell)
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Oilve Oil
- ¼ Cup Breadcrumbs
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ⅛ Cup Parmesan Cheese (Fresh from Block)
- 1 Garlic Clove (large)
- 1 Cup Couscous
- 1 ½ Cups Water
- 1 ½ Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- With a food processor or blender, combine the olive oil, basil, breadcrumbs, salt, parmesan cheese, and garlic. Pulse until a velvety texture is achieved. For breadcrumbs, feel free to make your own by toasting a piece of french bread and then pulsing it in the food processor first. We would like to emphasize that everyone likes their pesto a little different (some more "basily" or some with more parmesan cheese). We encourage you to not be confined by the ingredient measurements and to taste the pesto frequently.
- Bring water to a boil and add the couscous and butter. Cook the couscous for 8-10 minutes until it is soft and ready to eat.
- Heat one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a stainless steel or cast iron pan over medium/high heat. Be sure to place only a thin film in the pan as too much oil will boil the scallops versus searing them. Once you begin to see ripples in the oil, place the scallops into the hot pan in a clockwise pattern. This will help you know which scallops have been in the pan the longest.
- Sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side depending on their size. Sprinkle salt and lemon on the scallops as they sear. When there is a deep golden color on the first side, flip the scallops and sear them on their other side. The scallops will be fully cooked when they feel slightly firm but tender when you press on their flesh. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel or wire rack to let the excess oil drip off.
- To plate, add the couscous in a circular shape with the scallops on top. Top the scallops with a dollop of your homemade pesto. Finish with salt and lemon. Enjoy!