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Seared Scallops with Warm Radicchio and Pancetta


Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as an appetizer

  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 114

Radicchio’s bitterness mellows once it’s cooked, making it a sweet, tender bed for the scallops.

  • 1 large head radicchio (about 14 oz.)
  • 2 Tbs. cider vinegar 
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar 
  • 12 large all-natural “dry” scallops, side muscles removed 
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 oz. pancetta, cut into small dice 
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced through the root end
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
It’s essential to use “dry” scallops for this dish; they haven’t been soaked in a sodium solution, so they’ll brown better.

Remove the outer leaves from the radicchio and cut the head in half through the root end. Cut each half into 4 wedges through the root end and remove the white core.

In a small bowl, stir the vinegar and sugar until dissolved. 

Pat the scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat until hot. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove the pancetta from the skillet with a slotted spoon. Pour off all but 3 Tbs. of the fat (if you have less than 3 Tbs., add olive oil to make up the difference).

Put the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and sear until golden-brown on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook on the second side until they feel firm when pressed, 2 to 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, cover, and keep warm. 

Add the onion and rosemary to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 seconds. Add the radicchio and pancetta, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing gently and occasionally, until the radicchio is wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and pour the vinegar mixture over the radicchio. Toss to combine. Serve with the scallops. 

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 220, Fat (kcal): 14, Fat Calories (g): 130, Saturated Fat (g): 4.5, Protein (g): 13, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 6, Carbohydrates (mg): 9, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1.5, Sodium (g): 1270, Cholesterol (g): 40, Fiber (g): 1,

Photo: Scott Phillips

As a recipe I give it five. The flavors were really good- sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Very simple preparation. I served with tiny roasted potatoes and chardonnay.

I feel bad even reviewing this- HOWEVER- We had jumbo shrimp from costco in the freezer and I just could not justify spending more money on scallops when I thought jumbo shrimp would be great. And it was! absolutely delicious! served with roasted pearl potatoes. Really, really, really good! Also couldn't justify spending money on pancetta when I had bacon ready to use in the fridge. Call me cheap... or actually call me a women cooking for 6 on a budget. Worked great even though I HATE to change a recipe I know will work due to $$$.

This is A-MA-ZING. Quite possibly rivals Pad Thai as the perfect food combination of sweet, salty, tangy, soft and yielding! It is only missing the crunch factor to go head-to-head but the flavors are just fabulous. Kudos! My advice is don't fiddle with the recipe until you've tried it exactly as written--it can't be improved upon and if you think you can before you try it,you're really missing out!

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