Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree and Leeks

If you’re not familiar with scallops, I suggest you get familiar. Now! There’s a reason these little gems are featured on almost every top menu in the city: they are naturally smooth, have a buttery texture, and pair nicely with rich flavours. They are also really fast to make, and so easy to cook! But, these little pieces of heaven cost a pretty penny, so they are worthy of a special occasion…and to be paired with a crisp glass of white or even some bubbly! Whether it’s at the end of a tough exam, hard week at work, or you’re having guests over, celebrate with this over-the-top delicious scallop dish and raise a glass! Go you!

For this dish, I wanted to pair it with something that would complement the buttery flavour of the scallops, and cauliflower purée seems like the obvious choice this day in age. Cauliflower became the new kale about a year ago, and despite having to pay an arm and a leg for it a few months ago, it appears to be relatively reasonably priced again and still a hot base for purées, pizza crusts, and couscous alternatives. I’m loving this veg right now because it holds up to some serious seasoning and has a really great texture. In this recipe, I soften it in some milk and blend it up. You do not need to be a purée pro or have crazy equipment to make this stuff smooth like some other purées out there – a hand blender will do just fine!

To cut the richness, I add some sautéed leeks with lemon, and top it with some fried leeks for texture! All too often I try dishes that are delicious in flavour, but the texture is mush-on-mush. Adding a simple crunchy component is a trick to wake up the palate and take your dish to the next level. Enjoy the recipe below and let me know what you think!

Total time: 45 minutes
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients
Purée
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup milk (skim, 1%, or 2%)
1 tbsp. light cream
Salt and pepper to taste

Leeks- Sautéed
2 cups leeks, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

Leeks- Fried
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup leeks, thinly sliced
Salt to taste

Scallops
4 fresh scallops
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. curry powder
Salt and pepper

Garnish
Microgreens

Instructions
Leeks- sautéed
1. Add butter to pan on low heat, 1 minute
2. Add leeks and cook until they are soft but still still a little crunchy, about 10 minutes
3. Add lemon juice and cook for 1 more minute
4. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside
Purée
1. Heat cauliflower and butter in pot on medium-low heat until cauliflower is soft, about 5 minutes
2. Season with salt and pepper
3. Add milk and increase heat to medium. Bring to a boil and cook for another 5 minutes
4. Remove from heat, add cream, and immediately blend with hand or standing blender until smooth
5. Keep covered in warm place until ready to serve

Leeks-fried
1. In small saucepan, heat oil on medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes
2. Add one slice of leek to pot to ensure oil is hot enough- oil should gently bubble around the leek
3. If oil is hot enough, add remaining leeks. Cook until crispy and remove just as they start to brown
4. Place on paper towel and set aside

Scallops
1. Gently rinse and dry scallops
2. Season both sides with salt and pepper, and lightly dust with curry powder
3. Heat olive oil in pan until hot, about 1 minute
4. Add scallops and let sear, about 30 seconds
5. Add butter and let brown first side of scallop, about 1 minute
6. Flip and cook the other side until brown, another 1-2 minutes. To touch, the scallop should still feel soft and comply with a finger pushing down. You do not want the scallop to feel tough or resist when you push down on the top.
7. Remove from pan when cooked

Assembly
Place purée on plate first. Add dollop of sautéed leeks, and scallop directly on top. Garnish with fried leeks and microgreens.

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