Spring Green

When someone mentions pea green, most people think of pea soup made from dried peas. Army green, hospital green, schoolroom green.  Tasty, yes, but not a color that inspires me.

I prefer bright spring green, which can be brought to your table with vibrant fresh – or, in this case, flash frozen - peas.

One evening, our friend Marie-Claire came to dinner to help us taste a few rosés. It was the night I made the Parfait of Sweetbreads.

The sweetbread appetizer was unbelievably rich, so I wanted to create a light main course.

Because we were tasting Provençal rosé wines, I put on my Provençal lavender-harvesting straw hat and asked myself, "WWMD?" (What Would Matisse Do?)

Channeling Henri, I thought about flavor, color, texture, and composition. Here is what came to mind ... peas, lemon, fennel, and some nice, plump sea scallops. It all came together in a flash.

The one ingredient that really made the whole dish was the garnish of diced Moroccan preserved lemon. The brightness of lemon was perfect with the sweet fennel and pea purée and the briny seared scallops.

Amazing color, texture, and flavor; Matisse would be proud! He might even have approved of my plating!

Bon Appétit!

~ David

Seared Scallops with Fennel-Pea Purée

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 large white onion, sliced
1 large fennel bulb, sliced, fronds reserved and chopped
7 cups frozen peas
4-6 cups broth (chicken or vegetable) or water
1/4 cup Pastis
12 large sea scallops
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon fennel pollen, or ground fennel seed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 of a Moroccan preserved lemon, rinsed and diced

Heat 4 tablespoons butter in a soup kettle over medium heat and add the onions and fennel bulb. Cook gently until both are soft and translucent; do not brown them. Add the peas and 4 cups broth, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peas are tender. Transfer the peas, onion, fennel, and broth to the food processor; purée. If too thick, add some more broth. Adjust the seasoning.

Clean out the soup kettle. Then, using a very fine mesh sieve, press the pea purée through the sieve back into the soup kettle. Add the Pastis and stir; set aside. Discard solids in the sieve.

Wash and dry the scallops; remove the tough muscle.

Mix the flour and fennel pollen, with some salt and pepper, on a plate. Dredge each scallop on both sides and place on a plate.

Reheat pea purée.

Over medium-high heat, melt the remaining butter in a large non-stick frying pan. Sear scallops for about one minute on each side.

Ladle some pea purée into 4 heated soup plates, add three seared scallops to each plate, and top with chopped fennel fronds and some diced preserved lemon.

Light the candles, put on some Édith Piaf to set the mood, and serve with a nice rosé.

Serves 4.

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