Seared Scallops with Tomato Confit, Pearl Onions and Asparagus Purée

While brainstorming what to cook for my Memorial Day Dinner, I decided to wander around the Union Square Greenmarket for inspiration. In the end, I went buck wild on the market, but was mostly excited about having procured some freshly caught scallops because I’ve been meaning to cook some for a while. I’ve seared scallops in my Essentials of Fine Cooking Class at the International Culinary Center and wanted to recreate a similar dish at home. In class, we served our scallops on a bed of Truffled Cauliflower Purée, Mint Pea Purée and Tomato Confit. While I liked those purées, I was not crazy about the flavors. So I decided to keep the Tomato Confit, but throw in some pearl onions and an asparagus purée for a burst of color. I prepared all the garnishes ahead of time (and reheated) and the scallops once my guests arrived to optimize the timing. For another scallops idea, try Jen’s Seared Scallops with Corn Velouté.

Seared Scallops with Tomato Confit, Pearl Onions and Asparagus Purée
Yield: 4-6 servings


For the scallops:

  • 15 scallops (keep them on/under ice even if in the fridge before cooking to preserve freshness)
  • cayenne
  • paprika
  • pepper
  • salt
  • 2-3 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 lemon half

For the Asparagus Purée:

  • asparagus bunch
  • 1/2 cup of chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the Tomato Confit:

  • 1 package of cherry tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 cup olive oil

For the Pearl Onions:

  • 10 pearl onions
  • 1tbsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2-1 cup water



Pat dry the scallops and remove the muscle on the side (it is edible, but just not pretty). You can create any number of different rubs but I combined some cayenne, paprika, and ground peppercorns for a smoky/bright colored rub. Do NOT use salt, because it will start to cook the scallops. Rub the mixture of spices all over the scallops and set them aside on ice to take it in. Smoke powder/liquid powder works well here too, but I couldn’t find it in Whole Foods and honestly the cayenne gives plenty of smokiness for me.

On high heat, melt 1tbsp of butter and place the scallops in the hot pan. Sear them on each side for a minute or so. You can salt them now as well. Lower the heat to medium-high, add 2tbsp of butter and thyme. Let the butter melt and start browning. You need to get it to a sweet spot where it begins to have a bit of a hazelnut aroma. After that stage, you risk burning it. So once you get to the hazelnut stage, take the lemon half and squeeze all over the pan. Be careful because this step may splatter. Then take a teaspoon and begin basting the scallops in the butter/thyme/lemon mixture for another minute. Take off heat.

Tomato Confit:

Score the cherry tomato bottoms with a little “X”. Put the cherry tomatoes in a pan and fill the pan with olive oil about half-way of the height of the tomatoes. Throw in the garlic clove and thyme and put on low heat. Let the tomatoes cook slowly until they burst. Set aside.

Pearl Onions:

Peel the pearl onions and throw in a pan with 1tbsp butter, salt, and fill with water half-way the height of the onions. Put on medium heat and let cook to the glacé blanc stage, where the water in the pan is almost evaporated and the onions don’t pick up any color. Set aside.

Trim the asparagus bottoms and tops. Take the tops, drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 350* for 10-15 minutes, or until crunchy. These will be used as garnish.

Cut the asparagus stalks in 1inch pieces and blanch in salted water (cook until asparagus is soft and then dunk in an ice bath to help retain color). Reserve the cooking liquid or have some stock on hand.

Puree the asparagus with either the cooking liquid or stock (I used chicken stock for some added flavor). Set aside.

Finally, combine the Scallops, Tomato Confit, Pearl Onions, and Asparagus Purée on a platter, garnish with asparagus tops, and serve!

One Response to “Seared Scallops with Tomato Confit, Pearl Onions and Asparagus Purée”
  1. gorgeous! those onions look like wild garlic bulbs :). That looks so delicious!

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