Seared Scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree

 

Seared Scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

Now, this is a fancy one, I know, for a special occasion maybe… I would’ve posted it for the 14th of February, but unfortunately in New Zealand there are no Jerusalem artichokes around that time of the year! Aaahh Jerusalem Artichokes…. I have been patiently waiting all summer for these little gems to show up in the markets, and finally I spotted them at my local veggie shop! That made my day… mmm or at least was one of the highlights anyway… what can I say? It is all about the simple pleasures in life!

Jerusalem Artichoke

Photo by Cristina Gonzlez

Jerusalem artichokes (or sunchokes) are not truly an artichoke but a variety of sunflower type of tuber with a knobbly brown rough skin that resembles a ginger root. Its cream coloured flesh is nutty and sweet and has a very “artichokey” flavour (surprise! :0) I only discovered them last winter, but it seems I can no longer live without craving their particular taste, and although I was quite late to jump in the wagon I am a total fan.

If you like trying something truly special, you are going to love this delicate dish; the Jerusalem artichoke purée paired with the plump sweet scallops is a total delight, and the hazelnut & rosemary pesto highlights the nuttiness of the artichoke and gives the whole dish an unexpected oomph.

Seared Scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree

Photo by Cristina Gonzalez

You can serve this Jerusalem artichoke purée with roasted meats as well if you don’t want to go for seafood; you can even add more stock and make a lovely soup out of it, served with some crusty bread and topped with sour cream and some of the pesto for a vegetarian option.

Seared Scallops with Jerusalem Artichoke Puree

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 600g (1.3 lb) Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 whole garlic head, most of the papery leaves removed, 1/4 inch cut from the top
  • 1 + 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bouquet garni (herb bundle)
  • 1/2 cup light cream
  • salt & pepper
  • oil spray
  • 400 g (13 oz) scallops (I used frozen American scallops that I found in New World, because they are huge, sweet and super-plump, I just love them!)
  • Hazelnut & Rosemary Pesto
  • 30 g (1 oz) hazelnuts
  • 10-15 basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Preheat fan-forced oven to 180° C (350° F) - for conventional ovens, increase temperature by 10-20 degrees
  2. Wash Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbing them lightly. Dry and spread on a lined baking tray; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with some salt. Cook in the oven for 35 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. Reserve
  3. Meanwhile, make a little tin foil parcel, place hazelnuts in the middle in one layer;close parcel. Make another tin foil parcel, nestle garlic head on it, spray with some oil and close. introduce both parcels in the oven with the Jerusalem Artichokes. Take hazelnuts out after 15 minutes and reserve. Cook garlic for the same length of time as artichokes
  4. Heat the rest of the olive oil (1 tablespoon) in a big saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion until soft and beginning to brown slightly. Add roasted Jerusalem artichokes, herb bundle, 5 of the peeled roasted garlic cloves (keep the rest of the peeled garlic cloves in an airtight container in the fridge for another recipe, like hummus, soups, garlic mash or aioli) and the stock. Simmer covered for 10 - 15 minutes. Discard herb bundle, add cream and process with the hand blender until fairly smooth
  5. Press Jerusalem artichoke puree through a fine mesh strainer into a medium pan. Season with salt & pepper. Keep warm
  6. Dry scallops thoroughly in paper towels and season. Place a big heavy bottomed frying (cast iron ones work great here) over moderate/high heat. Spray with oil and cook scallops one minute on each side (depending on the size, you just want them to turn opaque)
  7. Hazelnut & Rosemary Pesto
  8. Place toasted cooled hazelnuts on a clean tea towel, and rub then a little to lose most of the dark skin. Place hazelnuts with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse a few times until everything is roughly chopped and blended (you don't want a smooth pure) Reserve
  9. To Serve
  10. Place 1/4 of the Jerusalem artichoke puree on each warmed small plate; top with the scallops & drizzle with some pesto. Serve immediately
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