pan-seared scallops with fennel, grapefruit, and balsamic-glazed figs

This elegant entree combines the richness of scallops, the freshness of fennel and grapefruit, and the sweetness of reduced balsamic vinegar and figs. It is surprisingly easy to make, but does require some specific attention to each component. Do not skimp on the scallop ingredient; be sure to get incredibly fresh scallops from your local fishmonger or supermarket and cook them the same day for optimal flavor. I would recommend serving this dish with a French white wine from the Burgundy region, or another one of your favorite Chardonnays.

 

  • Fennel (1 large bulb)

  • Grapefruit (1 large)

  • Microgreens (1 cup)

  • Chives (1/3 cup, chopped)

  • Goat cheese (1/3 cup, crumbled)

  • Olive oil (1 tablespoon)

  • Fresh figs (6-8 of similar size, cut in half)

  • Balsamic vinegar (2 teaspoons)

  • Fresh sea scallops (6-8 large)

  • Sea salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Butter (2 tablespoons)

 

  1. Remove the rough base and the top fronds from the fennel bulb with a large chef's knife. Chop the bulb in half.

  2. Using a mandoline, create very thin slices of fennel from both bulb halves. Alternatively, you could use the large chef's knife to create very thin slices; be sure to put the flat side of the bulb on the cutting board to ensure it doesn't roll while cutting.

  3. Place the fennel slices in a large mixing bowl. 

  4. On the cutting board, slice off the top and bottm edges of the grapefruit. Then slice from top to bottom along the outside of the grapefruit to remove the outer skin peel and pith. There should be no more white along the outside.

  5. Using a smaller knife, cut out segments of the grapefruit and add to the mixing bowl. Squeeze out the extra juice from the remaining membranes into the bowl, and then discard the membranes.

  6. Add the microgreens, chopped chives, goat cheese, and olive oil to the mixing bowl and toss with tongs so that all salad ingredients are evenly coated. Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Set aside while preparing the other components of the dish.

  7. In a small skillet, place the fresh fig halves flesh-down and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Cook on low heat until the figs are softened and the vinegar has reduced. The figs should not become too soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

  8. Finally, prepare the scallops. Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. 

  9. In a large metal skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of butter. When the butter is sizzling and the pan is hot, add the scallops to the pan. Be sure they are evenly spread out and not touching one another.

  10. Cook the scallops on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, using a spoon to baste the scallops with the melted butter in the pan. 

  11. Turn the scallops with tongs at after they have cooked on the first side; they should lift off the skillet easily if they are properly browned.

  12. Cook on the second side for another 2 to 3 minutes, also basting with the spoon. 

  13. When the scallops have evenly browned on both sides and are cooked through but not overcooked, remove immediately from heat to rest on a cutting board.

  14. To serve, mound the fennel and grapefruit salad mix on a large serving platter. Using tongs, place the scallops in a ring around the salad mound and decorate with the glazed figs. Drizzle with extra balsamic reduction.