Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sea Scallops Alla Caprese

In my quest for learning how to grill, I was excited to try something from Mario Batali's Italian Grill cookbook. I decided to start with Sea Scallops Alla Caprese because, well, I love scallops!

His technique calls for a "piastra". But a piastra is like a griddle so if you have a flat-surface grill pan that is cast iron and can go on the grill, go ahead and use that. In all the drama I've had attempting to roast veggies before, I never thought to whip out the "indoor grill" and use it on the outdoor grill. But now I'm glad I know because it was really easy to manage the roasting of the vegetables this way.

As for the use of heirloom tomatoes, I don't understand what the big fuss is, espeically since you are grilling them. I thought were an unnecessary expense, however the did make the meal more colorful.

Sea Scallops Alla Caprese
Serves 6

2 pounds mixed great heirloom tomatoes
24 fresh basil leaves
3 medium red onions, cut into 1-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
12 giant diver scallops (about 2 ounces each)
Maldon salt or other coarse sea sale
1 lemon, cut in half

Preheat a gas grill or prepare fire in a charcoal grill. Place a piastra on the gill to preheat.

Slice the tomatoes creatively (leave very small ones whole, or halve them) and lay out on a platter. Tear the basil leaves over the tomatoes, strewing them about. Set aside.

Season the onion slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Place them on the hot dry piastra and cook, unmoved, for 7 to 10 minuntes, until well charred on the first side. Using tongs, carefully turn the slices over and cook for 7 to 10 minutes on the second side, until well charred and softened. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly, then separate the onion slices into smaller rings and scatter them over the tomatoes. Drizzle the whole mess with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil.

While the onions cook, carve a checkerboard pattern about 1/4 inch deep into one side of each scallop. Season the scallops all over with salt and pepper, toss them in a bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and stir gently to coat.

Place the scallops on the dry clean piastra, design side down, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, unmoved, until almost cooked-they should be opaque almost all the way through. Flip them over and sear for just 30 seconds, them remove and arrange on the tomato salad.

Sprinkle the scallops and tomatoes with Maldon salt, squeeze the lemon halves over them, and serve.