No matter how many times I cook scallops, they still feel utterly fancy and special when I make them at home—it's more like I'm eating at a restaurant than my own kitchen. This recipe, from Diane Rossen Worthington's Seriously Simple, does nothing to spoil this fantasy. It features a complex twist on pesto using toasted almond and pungent mint leaves that pairs wonderfully with the sweet scallops and is pretty easy to prepare.
I served the scallops on a bed of greens, but it would go just as easily on top of cooked pasta for a heartier meal. The key is to use the extra pesto to dress the salad or pasta, as well as the balsamic syrup that's drizzled on the scallops. That syrup, by the way, is a fantastic method for turning average balsamic vinegar into something far more special: By just reducing the vinegar for a few minutes, it becomes sweeter and closer in taste to far more expensive aged balsamics.
- 3 tablespoons blanched almonds
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves
- 1 cup mint leaves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 1/2 pounds large scallops
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds until golden. Combine almonds, parsley, mint, and garlic in a small food processor or blender and pulse until uniformly chopped. Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil in a slow stream until a pesto is formed. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper.
Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mint pesto to a bowl with the scallops (reserve the rest for another use). Coat the scallops well with the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In the meantime, bring balsamic vinegar to boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking over medium heat until the volume of the vinegar has reduced significantly and it begins to look syrupy. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Prepare a grill or heat a heavy, ridged grill pan over medium high heat. If using a grill, thread scallops onto skewers. Grill scallops 3-4 minutes per side, until just translucent in the middle. Serve with reduced balsamic syrup drizzled over the top.