My daughter and I have each made, multiple times, a wonderful scallops with spring vegetables dish from the Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. This is a hot entree, with the scallops and vegetables coated with a great saffron sauce. This recipe was the direct inspiration for this salad. The salad includes pretty much the same ingredients, though obviously prepared and assembled differently.
A key to this salad (as to many things) is to make sure none of the ingredients are overcooked. The cooked vegetables should remain crisp. And with the scallops, yes, the 30 seconds for cooking is all that the slices require.
For dressing the salad, I made a saffron vinaigrette. I started with oil and lemon juice, since lemon always goes well with seafood. When cooking with saffron, the cooking causes the flavor and color to be released throughout the preparation. I wondered about how this would work with a saffron vinaigrette. My solution was to make the vinaigrette, with the saffron, an hour before I would finish the salad. I beat the mixture vigorously not just to mix the oil and lemon juice (even then, of course, only temporarily) but to break up the saffron threads and mix them up. It worked. The flavor and color of the saffron was gradually infused in the dressing. I could see it getting more yellow over time.
Of course, if you don’t have saffron, the straight oil and lemon juice vinaigrette would work just fine.
Scallops with spring vegetables salad
3–4 sea scallops, sliced into thirds
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup haricots verts cut into about 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup carrots, sliced
3/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup water
1 small shallot or 1/2 larger shallot, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
several saffron threads
The scallops, peas, and haricots verts need to be cooked ahead of time so they can cool before making the salad. They don’t have to be refrigerator temperature. Somewhat warmer than that is actually better. I would say doing this a hour or so before you plan to have the salad would be fine. Of course it could be much earlier. But then I would take these ingredients out of the refrigerator a little before making the salad so they would not be as cold.
To cook the scallops, put the wine, water, and minced shallot into a pot, bring to the simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes to combine the flavors. If the scallops are frozen, thaw under running cold water. Cut off the little muscle on the side of the scallops if present. Slice the scallops crosswise into thirds, giving 3 nice rounds about 1/4-inch or so thick. Put the scallops into the wine, water, and shallot mixture. When it returns to the simmer, which should happen quite quickly, time the cooking for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, and take out the scallops with a slotted spoon.
For the peas and haricots verts, bring 2 more pots of water to the boil. Add the peas, bring back to the boil, and cook for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water. For the haricots verts, add to the pot, bring back to the boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Again drain and rinse with cold water.
An hour or so before the final preparation, mix the oil, lemon juice and saffron threads. You only need a few threads. How much is really a judgment call–something of a guess as far as I’m concerned. Whisk this very vigorously for 30 seconds to a minute. The object here is to break up the saffron threads and get them to started infusing their color and flavor into the dressing.
For the final preparation, cut the butter lettuce into small pieces–you want this mixed up with the other vegetables, not dominating. Add the peas, haricot verts, and carrots, tossing everything together. Now whisk the vinaigrette, pour about 2/3 over the salad, and toss again.
Put the salad on the plate. Lay the scallop slices on top. Spoon a little of the remaining vinaigrette on top of each scallop slice.