We shrugged off late-summer produce on Saturday. Crazy. I know. Summer is nearly over. But it was pouring rain, and it didn’t feel much like summer. There were no tomatoes in our dinner. Not even one. No zucchini, pepper, or eggplant. A few months from now, I’ll wonder what I was thinking. But that day I just wondered: How can I indulge my craving for salty and sweet together?
For reasons I can’t explain, I landed on peas, harbinger of spring. And cured pork, harbinger of overeating. And scallops, harbinger of….I don’t know what. Omega fatty acids? Global warming? Scallops are billed as the main attraction here, but they were really just a vehicle for the peas and pork I couldn’t live without.
Scallops. Peas. Prosciutto. You could make this in any season (if your peas and scallops come to you frozen, as mine did). It requires little time and no finesse. Unless you’re also trying to cook a hot-dog (sigh) for your child, and feed your dog so she’ll stop staring at you, and answer the phone, and engage in the sundry mundane tasks which always seem to crop up at two-minute intervals during the dinner hour.
I burned TWO pans of pinenuts. I also dropped a hot scallop on my bare foot. Nice trick. Oh, and dinner got stone cold in the time I spent trying to take a picture of it. (I got a new tripod. There are many adjustments.) By the time we ate I was sweating, and cursing, and stabbing my scallops vindictively with a fork. Bet you’re sorry you missed it.
Regardless, it was a nice presentation, if I do say so. The minted peas pranced and cheered sporting their zany green, while the scallops presided, subtle and dignified in classic white and brown. The confetti of prosciutto and pinenuts lent just-right toasty and smoky notes. Not bad, all in all. I don’t expect you to forego the September tomato and zucchini bounty in favor of this. I recommend you set the recipe aside for a rainy day. They’ll be here soon enough. And if, say, you’re eating with a crazy fork-wielding maniac who bumbles and futzes furiously with her tripod in order to photograph your dinner: it reheats pretty well in the microwave.
SCALLOPS ON MINTED PEA PUREE WITH PROSCUITTO
4 cups peas, fresh, or frozen and thawed
8 large mint leaves
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup pine nuts
4 slices prosciutto (I used speck, which is smoked and delicious. You could also use pancetta. Yum.)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry, sprinkled with salt and pepper
salt and pepper
Puree peas, mint, melted butter, and salt in food processor.
Spread pea puree on four plates.
In a large skillet on medium high heat, toast pine nuts, shaking pan occasionally, until browned, about three minutes. Set pine nuts aside.
In the same skillet, place prosciutto in a single layer. Turn slices over after one minute. Cook until it starts to crisp, about two minutes more. Chop prosciutto and set it aside.
In the same skillet, still over medium-high heat, heat one tablespoon of butter with one tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot brown the scallops in one layer for two to three minutes per side. This will likely require two batches. Keep the first pan-load warm, and add the second tablespoons of butter and oil to the pan before sautéing the second half of the scallops.
Place scallops on pea puree.
Sprinkle with chopped prosciutto and pine nuts.
Serve with lemon wedges.