An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta

scallop, melted leek pasta, elegant first course, valentine's day appetizer

Pan-Seared Sea Scallop over Melted Leek Pasta
Lemon Creme Fraiche, Caviar, Celery & Garlic-Chive Flower Garnish

An opalescent sea scallop sits atop a dreamy melted leek angel hair pasta. Glossy black caviar and lemony cream fraiche adorn the scallop. Pretty white garlic chive blossoms and pale green celery leaves finish the dish.

These dry pack, wild caught, Atlantic sea scallops retail for well over $20/lb. U10 sea scallops are the largest available and have a sweet, rich buttery taste. They contain no preservatives or additives and will not ooze liquid during the cooking process, unlike wet scallops that have been soaked in a phosphate solution. Dry scallops caramelize naturally during cooking to a gorgeous golden brown crust. Though definitely not inexpensive, this luxurious dish can be made for just over $3 per plate by using black lumpfish caviar rather than the more extravagant sturgeon varieties. Black lumpfish caviar is clean and crunchy with a pronounced salty sea flavor.

An Elegant Little Starter Recipe

a elegant starter, scallop first course

Trim the dark green top and root bottom from the leek. Slice into pasta-like strips, lengthwise, and rinse well. Place in a heavy bottomed pot with 1 1/2 t. butter, 1 1/2 t. olive oil and 2 T. water. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding a bit more water if necessary.

Meanwhile cook angel hair pasta to al dente. When the leeks are super-soft, finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and toss with an equal amount of pasta for a 50:50 ratio of leek to pasta. Finish with chopped celery leaves.

Mix creme fraiche with lemon juice and finely grated lemon zest.

melted leeks recipe

Season cold dry scallops with Kosher salt. Heat a stainless steel saute pan over high heat. Add canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is very hot and just about to smoke, place the scallops in the pan. Be sure not to crowd the scallops. Cook over high heat for exactly two minutes to form a nice caramelized crust. Adjust the heat if the oil is smoking. Once the scallops are placed in the pan, do not move them. After 2 minutes, flip the scallops over with a pair of tongs, and cook for one minute only.

seared scallop, melted leek

Place the melted leek pasta in the center of a shell or small plate. Sprinkle with chopped celery leaves. Top with a scallop. Garnish the scallop with a dollop of lemon creme fraiche, caviar, garlic chive blossoms, and a celery leaf.

Valentine's Day first course, scallop pasta
This Elegant Little Starter would make a lovely first course for a Valentine’s Day meal or a fancy dinner party…

12 thoughts on “An Elegant Little Starter: Scallop & Melted Leek Pasta”

  1. Opalescent is right, that scallop looks like a pearl, and the leeks look just like pasta, I’m going to try that! Beautiful and elegant, your trademark LL!

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