An Elegant Appetizer

March 16th, 2010

Just the name of this recipe evokes elegance. It is Champagne Poached Scallops with Red Pepper Pesto. I found the recipe from Robert Irvine on The Food Network last year. The first time I prepared it my husband and I had an OMG moment. The richness of the scallops covered with a champagne reduction sauce in combination with the flavorful pesto and the crunch of the toasted baguette was as close to perfection as one can get. I fixed it again last night. We decided to have it with a simple salad for supper. But if you decide to make it as an appetizer for guests, it would be wonderful for a celebratory champagne occasion.

The components can be done in stages. I roasted the red peppers on the grill, but if you want to save time you could buy a jar or two of already roasted red peppers. It is easy to throw the pesto ingredients together in the food processor. The baquette slices can also be toasted ahead of time. David poached the scallops right before dinner and reduced the champagne sauce. We then assembled the baguette slices, spooned the champagne reduction over the scallops and ate our simple supper with the rest of the champagne and the salad.

Although this was really good this time, we didn’t have the same sublime reaction. The only thing I did differently was to garnish the scallops with lime zest. That was a mistake. It seemed to overpower the dish and take away from the total effect. If you want to garnish, I would suggest parsley since it is very mild. Why is it that sometimes it is hard to repeat the taste sensation of a first time impression? Perhaps it is because you know what to expect and the surprise element is missing. I hope you will be pleasantly surprised by this appetizer.


Red Pepper Pesto:
2 large red bell peppers, washed
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons pine nuts
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt, if needed

1 Baguette loaf, cut into 24 pieces

2 cups champagne
1 fresh lime
24 large sea scallops

Roast or grill the red bell peppers until the skins are charred then, using tongs transfer them to a covered container such as a small pan with a lid or even a platic zip-lock bag to let them rest. Peel them when cool.

Prepare the pesto. In a food processor pulse the garlic and pine nuts until fine. Add the red peppers, olive oil, parmesan cheese, pepper and salt if using. Process until combined and fairly smooth.

Toast the baguette slices lightly on a baking sheet and set aside.

Bring Champagne to a boil in a large skillet. Squeeze in juice of lime, then add the scallops and poach until they are no longer translucent. Remove scallops to a plate and let Champagne reduce by about two-thirds.

Spoon some red pepper pesto onto each slice of bread and top with a scallop. Top with a small amount of the champagne reduction and serve.

17 responses to “An Elegant Appetizer”

  1. Robin Sue says:

    Very elegant indeed. What a treat to make super nice foods for ourselves like this!

  2. Susan says:

    Bagette and scallop–you got me on those two and then you added the word champagne. Well, this sounds wonderful!!!

  3. Oh wow, that does sound wonderful. I did champagne poached salmon once, this would definitely be a man-pleaser at my house!

  4. I definitely have to try this one!


  5. The name of this recipe evokes alot of interest for me. This is a MUST try and soon. Thanks to Robert Irvine for this recipe and thanks to you for sending it along. And I must say I’m sure glad to see you say that you “fixed it”. Several years ago I was talking about what I had fixed for dinner and some pompous jerk in a sarcastic tone asked me “why are you fixing dinner? Is it broke?” I’ve said fix all my life, will continue to fix dinner and I say all “fixers” unite. 🙂

  6. OK… I happen to have a big bag of scallops in my freezer… but little of the other ingredients. So, i am going to tropical it up a bit (no Champaign, but mango rum… and some kind of a mango chutney… Going to have to lay on the beach and ponder this

  7. Kate says:

    This sounds wonderful. I know that the Kitchen Gnome will want to make this one also…he loves scallops! Thank you for sharing.

  8. This looks like a very elegant and sophisticated appetizer. Will have to try the next time I’m entertaining.

  9. Penny, what an elegant appetizer. I would have an OMG moment too.

  10. Hello! I’m Bonnie and love connecting with those who enjoy cooking, reading. I see that you like Elizabeth Berg. She just returned from a cooking class on the Amalfi Coast. I’ve enjoyed a number of her books and have met her a few times. I’m originally from the south but now live in the midwest. Your recipe looks delicious. I’m bookmarking it.


  11. Bella says:

    Oh, that sounds and looks delectable! It is incredibly elegant.

  12. Elegant and Sophisticated indeed! Such a classy lady you are!

  13. Linda says:

    You had me at scallops and champagne… what a wonderful idea… looks fabulous!

  14. This looks fabulous! I am so glad I discovered your blog!!

  15. I’m back for another one of those gorgeous scallops. I can’t stop thinking about them. Hope you had a great St. Patrick’s day. Please stop by my kitchen when you get a chance. I have something for you.

  16. Mary says:

    This really looks like the perfect way to start festivities. We are scallop lovers, so we’ll definitely be giving this a try.

  17. Katy ~ says:

    I am just envisioning how beautiful and delicious this is. We are planning an engagement party for this summer for Sweetie-Pi’s youngest daughter. I think this may just be on the buffet…thank you sooo much!!

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