At the end of winter, I love cooking food that is comforting, hearty and warming. It gives me something to look forward to, like a light at the end of the tunnel as the dark, snowy days draw to a close. It’s also a time of year that I like to spruce up recipes for some of my favorite meals.
The scallop recipe that follows is a twist on a classic. The combination of apple and onion is a flavor profile I like to use quite often. Both ingredients have an inherent sweetness, but the onion brings that savoriness we all look for in our dinner. Salsa verde, the Italian version adds an herbaceous quality to tie this dish together and makes the pan-seared scallops sing. I’ll also demystify cooking dried beans, which many people think of as a difficult or time-consuming task. A quick soak of the beans the night before makes cooking them the next day short and sweet.
This dish can be prepared over the course of two days. On day one, you’ll soak the beans and make the apple onion broth. Broths often taste better the next day as the flavors tend to meld and marry together overnight. The next day, you’ll sear the scallops, make the salsa verde, braise the beans and assemble the dish.
Day 1: Soak the Beans & Prepare the Apple Onion Broth
Soaking the Beans
Prep Time: 5 minutes or less / Soak Time: 24 hours / Special Equipment: Large airtight container / Yield: 1 lb. cooked beans
Soaking dried beans overnight is essential for a faster cook time the next day. Not to mention, this method gives the beans a better texture and makes them less likely to split apart or burst.
- 8 oz dried Romano beans (cannellini beans will work)
- Enough water to cover three times the amount of beans
Step by Step
- In a large airtight container, cover the dried beans amply with water, using approximately 3 times the volume of beans.
- Cover the container and place it into your refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Apple Onion Broth
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes / Yield: 2 cups
- ½ cup fennel bulb, thinly sliced
- ¾ cup yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ½ teaspoon coriander seed
- 2 star anise
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 small Fuji apple, skin on, thinly sliced
- ½ cup apple cider
- 1 cup water
- Salt, to taste
Step by Step
- Preheat a medium saucepan over low heat and melt the butter.
- Once the butter is melted, add the thinly sliced fennel, onion, coriander seed, star anise and fennel seed.
- Give the mixture a good stir, then season with salt. This will help extract the moisture from the fennel and onion.
- Cover with a lid and cook gently for 5 to 7 minutes on low heat, without adding any color to the aromatic vegetables. You want them to remain translucent. As they cook, the sweating will provide a nice base for the flavor profile we’re trying to achieve.
- Once the aromatic vegetables are tender, translucent and have sweated out most of their moisture, add the thinly sliced apple, apple cider and water to the same pan.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and remove the lid. Continue to simmer for 35 minutes until the flavor develops and you can taste the fennel, onion, spices and apple harmoniously.
- Once the flavors have melded, cut the heat and pour the broth into an airtight container. Allow to cool slightly, then place into the fridge overnight or until ready to use.
Day 2: Braise the Beans, Make the Salsa Verde, Shave the Fennel & Pan Sear the Scallops
Braising the Beans
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes / Cook Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour / Yield: 1 lb. cooked beans / Preheat Oven: 350F degrees
Cooking beans in the oven is a chef hack for cooking beans evenly, as opposed to cooking them on the stove, where only the bottom of the pot is heated directly. Instead, the oven surrounds your pot with heat so your beans cook evenly from top to bottom.
- 8 oz dried beans, soaked from the night before
- ½ onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 celery stalk, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- Water, as needed
- Salt, to taste
Step by Step
- Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
- Drain the beans well and transfer them to a large saucepan.
- Add the chopped carrot, celery, onion, thyme and bay leaf to the same saucepan.
- Cover the beans, vegetables and herbs generously with cold water. Ideally, you’ll need about 3 times the amount of water to the ingredients.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
- Turn the heat down and cover the saucepan with a lid. Transfer the entire pot to your preheated oven. Set a timer for 45 minutes to an hour, checking every 15 to 20 minutes for doneness. You want the beans to be tender, but not falling apart.
- After the beans have cooked, remove them from the oven and season with salt to taste.
- Let the beans cool to room temperature in the cooking liquid.
- Remove and discard the vegetables and herbs.
- You can now either reserve the beans in the liquid in an airtight container or strain the beans and hold them off to the side until you are ready to plate.
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes / Special Equipment: Blender or mortar and pestle
- 2 heaping tablespoons salted capers, rinsed in cold water
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the side of a knife
- 2 salted anchovy fillets, rinsed in cold water
- 2 lemons, zest and juices reserved
- ¾ cup flat-leaf parsley, fresh
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
Step by Step
- In a mortar and pestle, smash the peeled garlic to a fine paste.
- Add the rinsed capers to the garlic and smash to a fine paste as well.
- Next, add the rinsed anchovy and continue smashing, keeping the same consistency.
- Add the lemon zest and parsley leaves. Continue smashing the mixture until a paste forms that resembles the texture of chopped parsley. To help the smashing along the way, add extra virgin olive (a little at a time) to facilitate grinding everything down if needed.
- Finally, once everything is ground to a pulp, add the lemon juice and any remaining extra virgin olive oil. The consistency should be somewhere in between pesto and vinaigrette. Alternatively, you can place everything into a blender set to medium for a minute or two. This is quicker, but the flavor will be milder. If you choose to use a blender, the texture and appearance will be much smoother and less chunky.
- Reserve the salsa verde in an airtight container until ready to use. It will also last up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Prep Time: 5 minutes / Special Equipment: Mandolin
- 1 fennel bulb, fronds removed and reserved
- Ice water, as needed
Step by Step
- Cut the fennel bulb into 4 equal wedges using a sharp knife.
- Next, shave each wedge thinly on a mandolin. The cut side of the fennel should be making contact with the blade.
- Grab an airtight container and fill it with ice water.
- Plunge the shaved fennel into the ice water and then pop it into your refrigerator for a few minutes until crispy, perfect for finishing the dish.
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes / Cook Time: 5 to 10 minutes / Serves: 4 people
Scallops are sweet and savory. Our spice mix of fennel and coriander seeds plays well with scallops and the other ingredients in this dish. To sear scallops properly, you’ll first need to pat them dry with a paper towel so they’re not too wet, otherwise they won’t get that nice, crusty sear we’re looking for. When cooking, you’ll also need to pay attention to which side is the top and bottom of the scallop. The top has a more sloped appearance. We’ll be searing the top of the scallop first and foremost, getting them cooked about 80 percent of the way before flipping them in the pan.
- 1 lb. dry-pack scallops, approximately 10-20 count
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon coriander seed
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Olive oil, as needed
Step by Step
- Clean the scallops by removing the abductor muscle from the side of them. This will be a little “tab” that doesn’t look like the meat of the scallop. The abductor is tough because it’s used to open and close the scallop. It’s been working out. Remove and discard the abductor.
- Place each scallop, slope side down, on a plate lined with a paper towel and then set aside.
- Grind the fennel seed, coriander seed and flaky sea salt in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until you have a coarse mix. Reserve off to the side in a small bowl.
- Once the scallops have dried, go ahead and season them all over with the spice mix.
- Next, preheat a medium-large sauté pan over medium-high heat.
- Add a slick of olive oil to the pan. Once the oil begins to shimmer and lightly smoke, go ahead and place your scallops into the pan, slope side down. Cook until golden brown for about 3 to 5 minutes. This will get your scallops cooked about 80 percent of the way.
- Flip your scallops over in the pan, cut off the heat, and let them rest in the pan’s residual heat as you assemble the dish. This will allow for a nicely cooked scallop that is wam without being overcooked.
Assemble the Dish
Gather all your ingredients and get ready to plate.
Step by Step
- In a small saucepan, combine the apple onion broth and 1 cup cooked beans.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 2 minutes, just long enough to warm through.
- Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl.
- Nestle your seared scallops on top of the beans and apple onion broth.
- Rustically spoon the salsa verde all over the dish.
- Scatter a few shavings of fennel and their fronds throughout to complete your meal.
- Enjoy with family and friends.
Hello friend! I’m so glad to see that you are still cooking and gracing us us with delicious recipes. I can’t wait to try this one. Hope all is well! KEEP GOING!
Thank You! Let me know how you enjoy the recipe!