As I grow older, which seems to coincide with becoming busier, I value simplicity in my daily activities and chores. At times, I have to remind myself to “keep it simple;” usually, though, reminders come in the form of the free time that is created by living the motto. For example, an absence of complication at work makes my to-do list feel lighter, and I feel less stressed. I’m even trying to tackle my wardrobe and donate the things I no longer wear, opting for a handful of key, classic pieces. My girlfriends and I would much rather chit-chat over a bottle of wine and a nice cheese board than make reservations for a night out at a crowded restaurant where we’d struggle to hear each other over the noise.
At home, if I tidy up during the week it means I can avoid major clean-up sessions on the weekend (my husband will tell you this is still a work-in-progress). I have made strides with kitchen activities, partially prompted by the fact that my oven cannot be on for more time than it takes to pre-heat it in the summer; everything in the room tends to melt, including me. My goal is to now make a larger meal on Sunday evening, in hopes of having leftovers for lunches or dinner the next night, and cooking something special one-night a week. This recipe for scallops is certainly a treat, since it’s something I love to eat but don’t tend to add to my grocery list all that often. The Romesco sauce is a beautiful and colorful topping that doesn’t just look pretty, it tastes great, too.
Scallops and Pancetta with Romesco Sauce
¼ cup dry white wine
4 sun-dried tomato halves packed in oil, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup chopped roasted red peppers from jar
¼ cup whole almonds, roasted and salted
3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse kosher salt
4 oz. thinly sliced pancetta
12 sea scallops
Fresh thyme leaves (for garnish)
For the sauce, combine wine, tomatoes, and garlic in small saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Transfer tomato mixture to a food processor. Add peppers, almonds, and oil and blend until coarse puree forms. Transfer to small bowl. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper and set aside. Heat large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook pancetta until done; remove to a plate lined with paper towels to collect the grease. In the leftover grease in the pan, sear scallops on each side of medium-high heat, approximately 3-minutes per side. Top pancetta with scallops, then finish with a spoonful of Romesco sauce on top.
Romesco sauce is a Catalan recipe that’s perfect for the warmer weather. The ingredients don’t require a lengthy stay, simmering on the stove, to heighten their natural flavors; they’re already powerful as-is. Served room temperature, the sauce is refreshing and can even dual is a dipping agent for raw veggies or pita bread. Simmering the wine with the sun-dried tomatoes and garlic infuses the liquid, and the sweet and tart combination pairs perfectly with the roasted red peppers. The almonds add an earthy, nutty, and crunchy element. The sauce offers an amazing texture that counters the soft, buttery nature of the scallops, which take on a salty, seared exterior thanks to a few minutes in the pancetta grease. Talk about simplicity; why drain the leftover fat from the salty pork when you can cook something with it?
The Romesco sauce is the epitome of simplicity and the perfect summer recipe; I won’t limit it’s pairings to just seafood, and welcome the opportunity to put it on steak or pasta. Scallops, too, couldn’t be any easier to work with and, overall, this recipe matches my “keep it simple” approach.