La Cagouille’s Sea Scallops with Warm Vinaigrette a.k.a What to do with Those Chives

This potted chive has survived every winter since I first planted it over 20 years ago, and is always the first plant to return in spring to our terrace herb garden. A few years ago, it sent some seed over to another pot, which now joins in its spring awakening. I’m forever amazed at it’s stamina and stability, not to mention those delightful purple flowers.

This evening, looking for a recipe to enjoy this little spring harvest with more than just my eyes and nose, I picked up one of my favorite cookbooks, The Paris Cookbook. by Patricia Wells. I’ve loved Patricia’s books ever since Jeffrey Miller, our wonderful wedding caterer, gave me her Food Lovers Guide to Paris as a gift on our wedding day. It was the perfect gift – our honeymoon was in Paris and Jeffrey knew we were foodies. This past summer, in one of those circle of life moments, Jeffrey happened to cater the wedding of my husband’s cousin’s son – who I had delivered with forceps some 20 odd years ago. (Before you ask, he graduated from MIT – so no harm was done by the forceps…) Anyway, I was hoping Jeffrey would be there for the wedding, but his catering business, which was just getting off the ground when I was married, is now long established and I’m sure he rarely attends the weddings he caters.

But I digress – back to Patricia Wells and The Paris Cookbook. This lovely little cookbook reads like a private tour of Patricia’s Paris – the chefs and restaurants she loves, the food markets and shops she frequents, the regular French folk and the foodie friends she has made over the years. Each recipe has a story and every one of them makes me want to move to Paris.

My chives found their perfect use in La Cagouille’s Sea Scallops with Warm Vinaigrette by chef Gerard Allemandou. Its a simple preparation that perfectly balances the richness of the scallops with a barely acidic sherry vinaigrette. Minced chives mingle with parsley and tarragon as a little show of spring.

Patricia recommends serving the scallops with Noirmoutier Potatoes with Fleur de Sel, and that’s what we did. I’ll post that recipe tomorrow.

La Cagouille’s Sea Scallops with Warm Vinaigrette

This recipe serves 4 as a first course and 2 as a main course, which was how we served it. If you want to serve four as a main course, I would increase the scallops to 16 ounces, but not the herbs or vinaigrette, as there will be plenty of both. Ms Wells uses a non-stick pan to saute’ her sea scallops. Not having such a pan, I used a stainless steel skillet with a little olive oil. Slicing the scallops in half horizontally is a nice trick to ensure that the scallops cook through and brown as well. Not to mention it doubles the amount of browned surface one gets to eat!

6 large sea scallops (about 8 ounces total)
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
About 2 tbsp finely minced fresh chives
About 2 tbsp minced parsley
About 2 tbsp finely minced chervil or tarragon
Fleur de Sel or fine sea salt
Freshly ground white pepper (I only had black pepper)

The vinaigrette
1 tbsp sherry wine vinegar
Fine sea salt
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Rinse scallops and pat dry. Cut in half horizontally and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette: In a small jar, combine the sherry and the sea salt to taste. Cover and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the oil, cover and shake to emulsify. Taste for seasoning and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan. Add scallops and sear until they are just browned around the edges, about 1 minute each side to cooke them through, less if you like them less cooked. Season with salt and pepper after the first side has cooked.

Spoon 1-2 tbsp of vinaigrette and 1/2 tsp herbs onto each warmed dinner plate (I admit I did not warm our plates, but you’ll do that, won’t you?..). Transfer scallop halves to each of the prepared plates. Sprinkle with the remaining herbs. Season with Fleur de Sel and white pepper, and serve.

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