My Recipe Box

Seared Scallops with Pea Purée, Crisp Pancetta & Gremolata


Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course.

  • To learn more, read:
    Peas from the Pod
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 92

This recipe may look fussy, but it’s actually feasible for a weeknight. The luscious sweet pea purée comes together quickly, and the pancetta bakes while you sear the scallops. Easy and elegant, this dish is great for guests or for a special family meal.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 cups fresh shelled peas (about 2 lb. unshelled) or frozen peas
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or water
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 very thin slices pancetta
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 12 medium all-natural “dry” sea scallops
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F.

Set aside 1 Tbs. of the shallots and put the rest in a 3-quart saucepan with 2 Tbs. of the oil and the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots are soft and fragrant but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the peas and the broth and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and cook until the peas are tender, 5 to 8 minutes for fresh peas, 3 to 4 minutes for frozen.

Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and purée to a smooth consistency, adding a little water if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the purée to the saucepan, cover, and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm.

Put the pancetta on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside in a warm spot.

In a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and the reserved 1 Tbs. shallots and set aside.

Pat the scallops dry and season them generously with salt and pepper. Heat the butter and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Portion the warm pea purée among four large salad plates or between two dinner plates. Arrange the scallops on the purée and crumble the pancetta on top. Sprinkle the gremolata over all and finish with a generous drizzle of olive oil.

Serving Suggestions

Similar to risotto, Orzo with Lemon, Garlic, Parmigiano & Herbs makes a perfect side.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 290, Fat (kcal): 20, Fat Calories (g): 180, Saturated Fat (g): 5, Protein (g): 13, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11, Carbohydrates (mg): 15, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 2, Sodium (g): 630, Cholesterol (g): 30, Fiber (g): 4,

Photo: Scott Phillips

i've been making this for years and grow peas just to make this dish. Fantastic

Really tasty! The pea puree was a little runnier than I would have liked, next time I will use 1/2 cup less broth so that it's closer to a mash rather than a liquid. Other than that, all of the flavours were delicious.

My first review ever, after years of online recipe collections! The recipe deserves the recognition.. I prepared the recipe virtually to the letter, and it was flawless. The pea puree ( frozen tiny peas) was gorgeous, with a sweetness that enhanced the dry scallops (you must have dry, not preserved scallops), and the smoky pancetta added another layer of flavor. I found it quite simple to prepare, largely ahead of dinner. We poured Olivet Lane Chardonnay, perfect! Sauteed asparagus and jasmine rice - an elegant dinner! I will use this recipe for small dinner parties with confidence!

This was an expensive disappointment. I bought gorgeous fresh scallops from a fish market. The puree just wasn't tasty, even though I added S+P twice. I think there was too much going on in the dish -- puree, scallops, pancetta, gremolata, olive oil drizzle. It overpowered the taste of the scallops for both my husband's and my taste.

Made this for Easter Sunday, but this is an easy and elegant meal for any special dinner. The pea puree and pancetta can be made in advance and rewarmed, so you simply have to sear/saute the scallops right before serving. Phenomenal... delicious... elegant... eye pleasing.

I made this as the entrée for our Valentine's Day Dinner with the recommended side dish. It was fabulous..beautiful, flavorful, intriguing textures. My husband loved it and he has very refined tastes (hard to get a wow, but this dish got one!) It was a little fussy but many steps could be prepared ahead of time for quicker last minute assembly. This is a beautiful dish I will make for an elegant appetizer when entertaining.

This recipe is awsome!!

This recipe is soooo good! I didn't like scallops until I tried this recipe. Now I love them and I make this all the time. Super easy and fast but elegant enough for dinner parties.

Excellent and easy!! Used frozen peas and frozen Archer Farms scallops, along with some thicker-sliced pancetta in addition to very thinly-sliced prosciutto, since it's what I had on hand. The prosciutto baked up really crisp. Great meal!! Posted a photo and a link on my Facebook page :-)

I loved both the ease and and elegance of this dish - I even blogged about it to all my friends!

This really was quite good. I really liked the pea puree. I tried to hit my mother-in-law up for some fresh peas... but she wasn't sharing. So, I used frozen. The puree still tasted really great though, and the scallops were great. It really was a beautiful dish.

I served this as a main course for 2 and we both enjoyed it quite a lot

Absolutely delicious. An impressive, easy dish that requires no alteration.

I liked this recipe a lot. It is a little fussy but you can make it in easy steps. The pea puree is delicious. And the colors of the finished plate are gorgeous. Green puree, seared scallop, pink pancetta, yellow and dark green in the gremolata. This is a nice dinner for two. You can cook off the pancetta and make the gremolata in advance.

this is fast, easy and delicious! I made it after getting home from work and used frozen scallops and Peas from Trader Joe's. The have both the large japanese and new england scallops right now, so stock up! Substituted pan-sauteed prosciutto for the pancetta, so it wasn't quite as crispy. Still tasty though!

This was excellent! Easy to make. Nice blend of very different flavors - the sweetness of the peas and scallops, the tartness of the lemon zest and the smokiness of the pancetta. I had to bake the pancetta a little longer than the recipe called for, perhaps it was a little to thick. I couldn't find any fresh peas so I used frozen which seemed to work just fine. I was initially concerned because the recipe indicated that the puree might be too thick and suggested adding water or broth. Mine initially seemed fairly soupy, maybe because of the frozen peas (which were thawed and well drained). But as the puree cooled, it became thicker. Definitely will make this again. It would make a wonderful gourmet meal to serve to company.

Cookbooks, DVDs & More