Wednesday, 21 March 2012

10th Anniversary Dinner: Garlic and Butter Scallops with Pasta and Fennel and Orange Salad

They had an absolutely amazing fennel in the market at the weekend, and I'd been thinking about what to do with it all week. Following the success of our excellent peeler on the courgette salad earlier in the week, I decided to finely shave the finest bits of the fennel and slice the huge and beautiful fronds into a salad, while reserving the tougher stalks for a stew later in the week. Some sort of acidity would work well with the fennel, and also I wanted to serve seafood, so again I thought the flavours would marry very well. It all turned out totally yum!

I couldn't find the sort of large, quivering Scottish scallops I enjoyed so much in the UK - I had been planning to buy just ten, one for each of our years together. As the scallops were so much smaller, I bought ten each - still a hit to the wallet but worth it for the occasion :)


  • One large fennel, preferably with lots of green frondy bits
  • One large, ripe orange
  • 1 tsp grain mustard
  • 100g long pasta, like fettuccine
  • very good olive oil
  • 20 small or 10 large scallops
  • four cloves of garlic
  • 25g butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • a handful of basil leaves

Cut all the nice dark green frondy bits from the fennel and reserve. Cut off the tough stalks where they meet the bulb, and remove any really tough external layers. Wash the remaining parts, and then finely shave into a salad bowl. Save the tough heart, stalks and external layers for another meal.

Place the orange on a chopping board and cut off the top and bottom so that it is flat on each end. Place the bottom flat end on the board and, using a very sharp knife, cut the peel from the orange, following the curve around to the bottom. When you have worked your way all around the orange, turn it over and cut the last bits of pith from the bottom. Hold the orange in the palm of your hand, over the salad bowl. Slice as close as you can along the skin of each segment, letting each one drop into the salad bowl, working your way around the orange. When you have removed all of the juicy segments, squeeze the pithy core out over the salad, then discard. Stir through the mustard then chill while you prepare the scallops.

Set the pasta to cook according to its packet instructions. Finely slice the garlic into slivers. Heat the butter and a tbsp of olive oil in a large frying pan, until the butter begins to colour and froth. Add the scallops and sear on one side, then turn and add the garlic. Fry until the garlic is golden and the scallops are done, then turn off the heat and tear in the basil leaves, and stir in the honey. Serve the pasta and salad onto the plate, and top the former with the scallops and butter sauce, and the latter with a drizzle of olive oil.

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