Ideally, my Wednesday special meal will catch Phil by complete surprise, but this time he had been snooping around the depths of our fridge. Just as I was getting ready to cook dinner, he asked me with a big smile “we’re having scallops tonight for dinner, aren’t we?”. Bummer. Just could not get him this time.
I had the inspiration for this meal when I brought home a couple of heirloom tomatoes, and was blown away by how juicy and delicious they were. I went right back to the store and bought some more. They turned into a fantastic sauce, paired with leeks and a thinly sliced fennel bulb. Scallops crowned the meal with their touch of class, always welcome. Another Wednesday evening made ultra-special!
1 Tbsp olive oil (+ a little more for searing scallops)
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, frowns reserved
3 to 4 heirloom tomatoes, depending on their size
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp orange zest, divided
8 sea scallops
¼ tsp ground fennel
spaghetti, or pasta of your choice
Boil the water to cook the pasta.
Core the tomatoes and cut them in large chunks, but don’t seed them. Reserve.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, then saute the leeks and the sliced fennel for about 5 minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper. When they are soft and starting to get some golden color, add the tomatoes and half the orange zest. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes start to melt and release a lot of juice. Cover the pan, and keep at a simmer.
Cook the pasta, and when it’s 5 minutes from being ready, heat a non-stick skillet on high heat, add olive oil just to coat the surface lightly. Pat the scallops dry, season lightly with salt, pepper and ground fennel, and sear them, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
Reserve some of the pasta water, drain the pasta and add to the tomato/fennel pan, increase the heat slightly, and let the pasta and the sauce cook for a minute or so together. If needed, add some of the pasta water to the sauce. Add the remaining orange zest, the scallops on top, and sprinkle with minced fennel fronds right before serving.
to print the recipe, click here
If you make this dish with “regular” tomatoes, it simply won’t be the same, so try to find these funky looking babies, they are superb, particularly the brown ones. We could not get over the flavor of this dish, so few ingredients, but they work together beautifully, and the scallops (make sure you get a nice sear on the outside) are not overpowered by the sauce.
Normally I reserve the pasta water to adjust the consistency of a pan sauce, but in this case it was not necessary to add any. The tomatoes did their job providing all the moisture to coat the pasta strands.
If you don’t like scallops, shrimp could be a good option, or chicken breast filets. If you want to keep it vegan, maybe grilled tofu could work too. But don’t mess with the heirloom tomatoes!
ONE YEAR AGO: Pain de Provence
TWO YEARS AGO: Golspie Loaf