Seared Scallops and Herb Salad
This simple appetizer packs a big flavor. Seared scallops are served with a salad of chopped herbs and dressed with a sherry butter sauce and basil oil. Plan on three scallops per serving, but adjust if the scallops are exceptionally large.
- Basil Oil
- Salt - 1 teaspoon
- Fresh Basil Leaves - 1 cup
- Virgin olive oil - 1 cup
- Sea Scallops - 1 pound
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Olive Oil - 2 tablespoons
- Shallots - 2 tablespoons, finely chopped
- Dry Sherry - 1/4 cup
- Sweet Butter - 5 tablespoons
- Chives - 1/4 cup, finely chopped
- Mixed Herbs - 1 cup, finely chopped (flat-leaf parsley, dill, fennel tops, basil)
To make the basil oil: One day ahead, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the salt and drop in the basil leaves. Cook 1 minute, remove, and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking. Tear the basil leaves into medium pieces and place in a blender with the olive oil. Process until pureed and bright green. Strain the oil mixture through a fine-meshed sieve; discard the solids. Let stand in the refrigerator overnight.
To prepare the scallops: Season the scallops with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large saute pan over high heat. Add one tablespoon of the olive oil to the hot pan and heat 30 seconds. Add the scallops and sear one side until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not shake the pan or move the scallops until ready to turn. Using tongs, turn the scallops and brown the second side for 2 more minutes. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add the shallots to the still-hot pan. Return to the heat and cook for 30 seconds before adding the sherry. Bring the sherry to a boil and reduce by half. Swirl in the butter, a tablespoon at a time. Do not let the butter get so hot that it melts into yellow streaks; move the pan away from the heat to control the temperature. Fold in the chopped chives.
To serve: Toss the herb leaves with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the basil oil. Place 3 scallops on each warmed serving plate and place a small mound of herb salad in the center. Drizzle the chive pan sauce over the scallops. Put basil oil in a squeeze bottle and dot basil oil around the plates.