Food Eyeswoon Kitchen:

Seared Scallops with Shaved Fennel & Salsa Verde

Photography by Sarah Elliott

I am a sucker for a vibrant lemony herb sauce on just about anything. I know, I know, nothing new here, but when it works, it simply works. This blend lends sharp acidity with lemon and red wine vinegar, brininess with chopped capers, herbaceousness with that good ol’ staple parsley, and brightness with the unexpected punch of licorice-y tarragon. Add it to any protein and your meal is suddenly awakened!

Spoon this salsa verde over a buttery and perfectly tender scallop, seared to golden perfection, and add the crunch of paper-thin shaved fennel and you have yourself a textural masterpiece. A few roasted Sungold tomatoes, with the help of sautéed shallots, add flavor and color to this perfectly-curated meal.

I say “perfectly curated” because that is precisely how I approached this dish. When I can find an arena in which to exercise my two dueling passions, food and design, I am like a pig in mud, a clam at high tide – well you get it, I am at my happiest! I have always been intrigued by any creative journey and continually find myself grilling artists with a ton of likely annoying questions. I just want to know how they come to a final piece of art, a dish, a room, a song. Where did they start? What was the spark that initiated the journey?

I’ll admit, though, that if I had to answer the questions I ask, I often would not know what to say. Typically my creations come together at once through a series of thoughts and glimmers I’m unaware of in the moment. For this dish, however, I can easily trace my course back to color. Regardless of whether I can pinpoint the exact origin of a creation, aesthetics are always a jumping off point for me. They are more important than comfort, function and practicality in my design-obsessed world, and the same approach is applied when I’m conceiving of a recipe.

In the same way I want texture, layers, contrast, and color to fill a room, I desire it for a plate of food.

I created this recipe with heightened aesthetics in mind, as the images were for a brand partnership with Veuve Clicquot. I was to pair a dish with their La Grande Dame Champagne. The flavor notes of the Champagne were without doubt the starting point in choosing the shellfish. But beyond that, I knew I wanted bold color. No one wants to look at or eat a plate of neutral- and brown-hued food – yuck. In the same way I want texture, layers, contrast, and color to fill a room, I desire it for a plate of food. So, green and yellow were included, or curated, for visual interest. Placing these morsels on a black plate was also no accident. This, too, was to chosen to create opposition.

So here’s one question I would always be able to answer: How do you approach design or a dish? Whether I’m planning the aesthetics of a room or a recipe, or even flavor-building, the same philosophy underpins it all. After all, a dark, dramatic statement juxtaposed against an all-white table adds intrigue in much the same way a the hit of briny capers and licorice-y salsa verde grasps your palette’s attention. Design/flavor. Beauty and deliciousness by way of balance, layers, texture, tone and contrast. Same/same.

Seared Scallops with Shaved Fennel & Salsa Verde

EyeSwoon Kitchen


Seared Scallops with Shaved Fennel:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 scallops
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cup Sungold tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium fennel, trimmed and thinly shaved
  • 1 teaspoon mignonette or red wine vinegar
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper

Salsa verde:

  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tarragon
  • 1 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & pepper


The Prep

  1. Finely chop herbs and lemon rind. Roughly chop capers. Stir together with oil and season to taste.
  2. Whisk together vinegar and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Drizzle over fennel and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Make salsa verde and set aside.
  4. Pat the scallops dry. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Heat butter in a stainless steel skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, add the scallops and cook, without moving, for 1 1/2 minutes until nicely browned. Flip and cook another 1 1/2 minutes until nicely browned. Remove the scallops from the heat.
  6. Drizzle in about 1 teaspoon oil, in the same skillet. Add shallots and cook on medium until soft, then add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Toss together tomatoes and fennel. Plate with scallop on the side and drizzle salsa verde over scallops.
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