Moment of honesty: Beyond being an opportunity for socializing, inviting people for dinner is the way I motivate myself to clean the house.
R likes to say, "I'm busy that day" (regardless of whether he knows the day) to avoid the chores. But, he always comes around and "makes time in his busy schedule."
I don't mind telling my guests that we cleaned up, to counterbalance the facade we've created of having a meticulous house. But, there's no way I would actually have people over when my house is a mess.
Last weekend, we invited some friends for dinner. The mains were fairly standard (brisket, roasted potatoes, tomato salad), but I decided to go a bit fancy for the appetizer.
I found this recipe on Alosha's Kitchen. If you haven't visited Melissa's blog, you should -- she has a great variety of dishes that will definitely entice you. Melissa got this recipe from her friend, Amy.
Scallops with Pea Puree, Pancetta and Gremolata
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
3 ounces diced pancetta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups frozen early sweet peas, thawed
1 cup chicken broth
12 medium sea scallops, patted dry and seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
For the gremolata: in a small bowl combine the parsley, lemon zest, and one tablespoon of shallot. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the pancetta until crispy and cooked through, 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan, leaving some of the reserved fat in the pan. Set aside.
In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté the garlic and remaining shallots for about 3-4 minutes. Add the peas and broth and season with a little salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Transfer the contents to a blender and puree to a smooth consistency (I used an immersion blender). Return the puree to the pan, along with the cooked pancetta, cover and set aside to keep warm.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat butter and the remaining olive oil over medium-high until very hot. Add scallops and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and almost firm to the touch, about 3 minutes per side.
On serving plates, arrange the scallops on top of the puree and sprinkle with the gremolata.
Note: The dish was flavourful and well-received. It looks fancy, but is pretty easy to make. I consider it a success and feel a scallop kick coming on.
If you're making this for guests, I recommend cooking the pancetta well before guests arrive to avoid having a house full of smoke when guests arrive.. If I were to do it again, I'd probably not add salt to the pea blend since the pancetta is already quite salty.