For the pesto:
- 1½ cups shelled English peas
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil, plus more as needed
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the scallops:
- 1-1½ lbs. large sea scallops
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 tablespoons clarified butter
- ½ cup white sugar, spread on a flat plate
step 1: Show Images
To make the pesto, bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the shelled peas and cook briefly, about 60 seconds, until bright green and slightly tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add in the garlic, basil, lemon juice, water, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Process first in pulses to finely chop, and then let run until the mixture has smoothed out. Add additional olive oil 1 tablespoon at a time as needed until the pesto has the texture of a loose paste with minimal lumps. Set aside while you prepare the scallops.
step 2: Show Images
Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet on medium-high for 2 minutes. Add the clarified butter and swirl to coat the pan. When the butter begins to foam, prepare the scallops quickly. Working efficiently, coat one side of each scallop in sugar, grasping the sides and using a gentle twisting motion to help the sugar adhere. Place the scallops sugar side down in the skillet and sauté for 2½ minutes. If the sugar starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat. Flip the scallops over and cook for 1 minute more. Remove from the pan and serve immediately over the pea herb pesto.
step 3: Show Images
Note: Scallops need to be cooked just so, so be vigilant. No checking social media while they are cooking! If your scallops are exceptionally large, you may need to increase the cooking time just slightly. If necessary, sacrifice one by slicing through the middle to check for doneness. It will be worth it for a perfectly cooked, melt in your mouth scallop experience.