The fresh flavor of the ingredients makes this easy-to-prepare dish one of Spiaggia’s winning first courses. Purchase sea scallops out of the shell labeled “diver caught” or “dry pack.” This refers to scallops that are caught by hand and not packed in water. If your fishmonger sells only scallops in water, drain the scallops and pat dry with paper towels to remove the excess moisture prior to cooking, ensuring a firmer scallop and better browning.
The combination of brown butter and truffle oil is the secret behind our signature vinaigrette. It shines on warm shellfish and seafood dishes, too.—Tony Mantuano and Cathy Mantuano
For the Spiaggia dressing
Makes 1 cup
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons truffle oil
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
For the salad
2 ounces dried (or 4 ounces fresh) sliced porcini mushrooms (see Notes)
4 ounces fresh mushrooms, such as shiitakes, chanterelles, or portobellos, brushed clean
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 medium diver-caught sea scallops (see recipe introduction)
4 cups mâche lettuce, cleaned and dried, plus extra leaves for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup Spiaggia Dressing (above)
12 pieces shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan cheese
Make the dressing
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook to a nutty brown color, until the foam subsides, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the vinegars and salt to taste. Drizzle in the cooled brown butter and then the oils, whisking until the dressing is well blended. Season to taste. The dressing can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. Return to room temperature before using.
Make the salad
1. Place the dried porcini in a bowl with very hot water to cover. Soak for about 20 minutes, then drain and rinse. Thinly slice the fresh mushrooms.
2. In a skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add all the mushrooms and saute until lightly browned and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and cover to keep warm.
3. In the same skillet over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the scallops and cook, turning once, until golden brown on the outside and opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
4. In a bowl, toss the mâche with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the warm mushrooms evenly among 4 plates and place 3 scallops on top of the mushrooms. Arrange the mâche around the scallops. Drizzle each serving with the dressing and garnish with 3 cheese shavings. Top each with extra mâche leaves and serve immediately.
Notes: Porcini mushrooms, also known as cèpes, have a meaty texture and wonderful, earthy flavor. At Spiaggia, we use imported fresh porcini mushrooms for this dish. Fresh porcini are often very difficult to find in American markets, however, so we call for dried here, as they are readily available and also have excellent flavor. If you do find fresh porcini, by all means use them instead.
Mâche, also know as lambs lettuce, is characterized by its bright green rounded leaves. It has a delicate, nutty flavor. If your market does not offer mâche, you can substitute watercress or mixed baby salad greens.
Recipe © 2004 Restaurant One Limited Partnership dba Spiaggia. All rights reserved.