Lentils for an Italian at the holidays are all good luck. Lentils look like tiny coins and eating them at the holidays is sure fire way to bring good fortune in the new year (or at least that’s what is said).
This dish combines a wonderful herbed lentil side dish with seared on the spot prosciutto-wrapped scallops. The lentils can be made ahead and served at room temperature if under 2 hours before. Otherwise, reheat to a hot temperature.
Tip: Use French lentils if you can find them. French lentils will not fall apart as they cook and will retain their coin like shape.
Makes 8 appetizer dishes (2 scallops per dish).
Ingredients and Directions:
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 shallot, coarsely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (or just drop several sprigs of fresh thyme in and remove the stem later)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Coarse salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 16 “diver” scallops (never frozen)
- 16 slices of prosciutto – thin sliced but not paper-thin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Combine lentils, celery, shallot, thyme, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain, and discard bay leaf (and the thyme stems). Return lentils to pan. Stir in 3 tablespoons oil, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Cover to keep warm or if using later, refrigerate overnight. Add a little water to reheat.
A few minutes before serving, rinse and pat each scallop completely dry with paper towel. With a sharp knife remove the hard skinned “foot” from each scallop if still attached. Wrap each scallop horizontally with a piece of prosciutto. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and press into the scallops with your hands.
Using a non-stick skillet, begin to melt 2 tablespoons of butter over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and bring the pan heat up to smoking hot. Place the wrapped scallops in the pan and sear on each side for about 1 1/2 minutes. You may need to do this in two batches. If the scallops are very thick, using a pair of tongs, sear the sides all around lightly too.
Spoon a little of the warm lentil mixture onto serving plates and top artfully with two scallops per person. Serve immediately.