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.
CHAMPAGNE POACHED SCALLOPS WITH RED PEPPER PESTO
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.