Meg Colleran Sahs
Colleran Sahs’s inspiration for this dish came from an Italian summer staple: prosciutto-wrapped melon. And while, obviously, the chef has added multiple elements here, the effect is essentially the same—cool, sweet melon plays off salty, crispy pancetta, which in turn offsets the richness of scallops. A word about those scallops: Colleran Sahs prefers them in small portions, and so offers this dish as an appetizer at Terzo Piano, where she’s chef di cucina. “Scallops are something that, me personally, I don’t want to have too much of,” she says. Usually we’d agree, but with this preparation, bring ’em on.
Find Nichols Farm melons at the Federal Plaza farmers’ market, 230 S Dearborn St, Tuesdays 7am–3pm, through Oct 26.
Seared Atlantic scallops with Nichols Farms melon, white-bean puree and crispy La Quercia pancetta
1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight and drained
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
½ large carrot, chopped
½ sprig sage
1 sprig rosemary
2 tsp white wine vinegar
6 thin slices of La Quercia pancetta
1 pound Atlantic scallops
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup each Nichols Farm honeydew melon and cantaloupe, diced small and combined
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp high-quality balsamic vinegar
1. Make the white-bean puree: Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. After 1 minute, add the olive oil and butter. After another minute, add the celery, onion and carrot. Cook until translucent, about five minutes. Add the beans, sage and rosemary and cover with water. Season with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, and let the beans cook until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove herbs from the mixture, transfer the beans, vegetables and liquid to a blender, and puree, adding more liquid if necessary to reach a smooth consistency. Finish with white wine vinegar and set aside.
2. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, flipping occasionally, until crispy on both sides, about two minutes per side. Remove to a paper towel to drain, reserving the fat in the sauté pan.
3. Season the scallops well with salt and pepper. Heat the same sauté pan used for the pancetta over medium-high heat. (If there’s not ample fat in the pan already, add a little bit of olive oil.) After one minute, add the scallops to the pan and brown on both sides, about one to two minutes per side depending on the size of the scallops. Remove to paper towel to drain.
4. Wipe out the sauté pan. Melt butter over low heat in the same pan, and then add the balsamic vinegar. Swirl to combine and remove from heat.
5. Put warmed white-bean puree on the plate and top with scallops, diced melon and crispy pancetta. Spoon sauce over the top of the scallops. Garnish with sea salt and drizzle with more olive oil.