Gourmet · Main Dish

Art on a plate: Seared scallops, hazelnuts, crisp prosciutto & rainbow vegetables

I’m not a very arty person.  I know what I like and what I don’t like, but whether or not it is “good” or not is another question.  With food, I generally much prefer the food to taste good, as opposed to merely look good (though ideally it should please both the eyes and the tastebuds…).  There’s nothing worse than a beautifully presented meal which is completely bland, or so unsatisfying, that it leaves you wondering when the bread basket will be refilled…

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Sometimes however I do feel a little “colourful”, and when I purchased some purple potatoes and went to use them, only to find out they were purple on the inside too, I got inspired to be colourful. The potatoes in question are the “vitelotte” variety. They have a very deep blue, almost black skin with a violet/blue interior which they retain in cooking. They are slightly more nutty in flavour than regular potatoes and are seriously beautifully coloured. I knew I had to use these paint bombs in coordination with other brightly coloured vegetables to decorate a plate.  Why not add some large juicy scallops too?!  And so a mid-week appealing-to-the-eye meal was born. It looks very impressive but bonus, it’s super easy.

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Seared scallops, hazelnuts, crisp prosciutto & rainbow vegetables
Serves 4

Ingredients                                             IMG_1961
4 vitolette potatoes
3 carrots
1 1/2C fresh or frozen green peas
6 crushed garlic cloves
1TB honey
1/4C cream
2TB hazelnuts
12-16 large sea scallops
2-3 slices prosciutto
3TB butter
1tsp rice bran or grapeseed oil
chopped parley and chives to serve
optional: edible flowers petals (for added visual appeal

Directions
1. Peel the carrots and potatoes and roughly cut into 3cm pieces, placing into two separate saucepans. Cover with water and add a tablespoon of salt into each. Bring to boil and simmer until tender (around 15-20mins depending on size). Place peas in a third saucepan, cover with water and a pinch of salt and bring to boil, simmering 5-8mins (until soft). Drain all vegetables and return to saucepans (without returning to heat at this stage).
2. While vegetables are boiling, toast hazelnuts in a small pan until fragrant. Remove from pan and roughly chop.
3. In the same pan, place strips of prosciutto and fry until fat is rendered and strips are crisp. Remove from pan and place on absorbant paper to allow further crisping. Crack prosciutto into angular, sharp-edged pieces (diagonally in quarters) (1 slice should make 4 pieces).
4. Using the same small pan again (to maximise the flavours, and minimise the washing up…) caramalise garlic in 2TB butter and a pinch of salt. Divide the mixture into three, placing a third each into the potatoes and peas and retaining the rest for the scallops. Add honey to carrots and 1TB of cream each to the carrots and peas and 2TB into the potatoes. Using a handheld blender, mash each of the vegetables (adding a splash of hot water if required for consistency as cream will diminish the colour intensity). Remember to rinse the blender between each mash to retain clean colours! Return pots to heat and season with salt and pepper.
6. Place a dollop each of the mashes on plates (however which way you want) – get the creative juices flowing!
5. Rinse scallops and remove any sand/grit. Remove the tough white muscle (if it is still on the scallop) and the roe if you don’t fancy it. Dry scallops well and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large fry pan for 1-2mins and add remaining butter and oil. Place scallops in pan ensuring they are not touching. Sear for about 2mins (until a golden crust forms) and, using tongs, turn over and sear for a further 1-2mins until other side is golden. Scallops should remain transluscent in the middle.
6. Place a scallop on each of the dollops of mash. Top with toasted hazelnuts, prosciutto,  chopped herbs and sprinkle with decorative floral salt.  Enjoy!

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Notes
1. If you cannot find vitolette potatoes, you could use ordinary ones (they just won’t be as colourful). Alternatively, mash up some cooked beetroot, or swap the orange carrots for purple ones and use pumpkin or sweet potatoes in place of potatoes.
2. Pinenuts are delicious in place of hazelnuts.
3. You could also use fish (cod, salmon, tuna) in place of scallops. Even chicken would be delicious.
4. Microwave the vegetables if you prefer not to boil in water. Just add garlic and cream to the microwave proof bowls after cooking, blend as above, and reheat in microwave.

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