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August 05, 2007

Farmer's Market Bounty

I finally stopped by the main Baltimore farmer's market for the first time on Sunday morning, and ho boy, is it a doozy. We'll be revisiting this subject sometime soon, but for now, a little dinner assembled from the bounty we brought home with us. Nothing fancy about the recipe, but when you have produce this good, the best thing is to just stay out of its way.

Dominic Armato

2 pints fresh fava beans, shells on
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 strips bacon
2 cloves garlic
6 sea scallops
salt & pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small shallot, minced
1 ear corn
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
½ C. sweet miniature tomatoes
1 Tbsp. basil chiffonade
2 slices crusty bread
extra virgin olive oil

Seared Scallops with Summer Vegetables and Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 2

Sourcing quality ingredients is, of course, always integral to a dish's success, but there are some dishes that particularly depend on stunning produce, and this is one of them. If you don't have beautiful fresh corn, tomatoes and beans, save this one until you do. In particular, make sure you can get some really tiny, candy-sweet tomatoes. I think they're particularly key.

Once you start cooking, the dish requires your total attention and comes together very quickly, so you want to assemble your mise en place like you would for a stir-fry. Don't turn on the heat until you have everything prepped and assembled in little bowls, ready to go.

To prep the fava beans, blanch them in boiling water for 5-6 minutes until they're very slightly undercooked, then shock them in a big bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When they're cool, shell them, save the beans and toss the shells. Slice the kernels off the ear of corn, combine them with the favas and set them aside in a prep bowl. Slice the strips of bacon the short way into thin little matchstick slices. Peel the two cloves of garlic. Slice the tomatoes in half and combine in a prep bowl with the basil chiffonade. Get your shallot minced up and put it in a small dish with the tablespoon of butter. Brush the bread with a little olive oil and grill it or toast it. I had it oiled and sitting in the toaster, ready to hit the button. Rinse the scallops and then use paper towels to pat them as dry as possible. The drier you get them, the nicer your brown crust will be when you sear them. Set them on a plate and season both sides with salt, pepper and a little paprika. Got all that? Okay. Moving on.

In a large sauté pan, combine 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and the bacon strips over medium-high heat. When the bacon gets a little crispy, but before it turns dry, remove it from the skillet and set it aside on paper towels, leaving as much of the oil and bacon grease in the pan as possible.

Immediately toss the garlic cloves into the hot pan, and swirl them around a bit. Add the scallops to the pan and cook them, turning once, until they're nicely browned on both sides and just barely cooked in the middle, about 1½ - 2 minutes per side. Remove the scallops from the skillet, set them aside and keep them warm. Leave the garlic cloves in the pan.

If your bread is in the toaster on standby, now would be a good time to hit the button. In either case, immediately add the butter and shallot to the skillet and sauté, moving constantly, for about a minute. Add the corn and fava beans and continue to sauté for another minute or so. Add the vinegar, remove the pan from the heat, and stir up the mixture, scraping as much of the browned gunk off the bottom of the pan as possible. Mix in another tablespoon of olive oil, add the tomatoes and basil, then adjust the seasonings, adding a little salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the garlic cloves from the mixture before you plate. Or don't, if you relish the idea of a garlicky surprise. But I think it's a little much for the dish.

To plate, lay down the toasted bread and top it with three of the scallops. Take any juices that the scallops have released while they've been sitting and pour them over the top. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles over the scallops, scatter the vegetables all around, and spoon some of the pan juices over the top. Dining al fresco is optional, but c'mon... tell me that dish doesn't belong under a sunset.


Great recipe. Coupled this dish with a few bottles of Pinot Noir. Also couldn't find the fava beans at the store so opted to just use edamame (soy beans). I'm sure the prep and actual cooking time would have been greatly reduced if I wasn't engaged in conversation and a bottle of wine while cooking.

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