Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Scallops with Pea Purée and Ham

[Photograph: Simon Wheeler]

I love the way that Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's mind works. Pairing seared scallops with crisp chips of Serrano ham and a minty purée of peas is reason alone to invest in a copy of his latest cookbook, River Cottage Every Day.

Simple, beautiful, and and astonishingly easy to prepare, these Scallops with Pea Purée and Ham are a plate that you'll want to make over and over again until the last of the spring peas are gone. It's got "dinner party" written all over it—the sort of dish that elicits all sorts of oohs and aahs but doesn't require any sort of cheffy skills or serious time commitment in the kitchen.

The peas are blanched tender and whirred together with mint and a single clove of just browned garlic with a bit of cooking water and softened butter for creaminess. Once your purée is buzzed and ready to go, slices of ham are sizzled until crisp and scallops are seared in the rendered ham fat until browned on either side. Plating is just a matter of placing the ham, scallops, and pea purée on a plate and drizzling it with a bit of olive oil. The salty ham, sweetly browned scallop, and a fresh burst of pea and mint flavor in the purée are almost magical when eaten together—balanced, fresh, exciting—the kind of starter that does its job perfectly, a little, thrilling bite that primes you for the next course.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of River Cottage Every Day to give away this week.

Adapted from River Cottage Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Copyright © 2009. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

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