© David Loftus
scallops with pancetta and mint butter
Flavoured butter is a great way to liven up your veg, and it takes no time to make. Always buy the freshest scallops you can find and pat them dry before cooking them.
Give the butter a whizz in a food processor with the mint leaves, a pinch or two of salt and pepper and the zest of the lemon.
Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper (roughly A4 size) on your kitchen surface and dollop all of the flavoured butter in the middle of it. Roll the butter into a sausage shape and cut a good-sized amount off the end to use later. Twist the ends of the paper so it looks like a Christmas cracker. Then pop it in the fridge to use up that week or put it in the freezer and take slices off as and when you need it.
Place a griddle pan on a high heat and get a saucepan of salted water boiling at the same time. Once the griddle is hot, toss your scallops in a little olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. If there is roe on your scallops (orange stuff, also known as coral), prick it with a knife before putting the scallops in the pan, or it will burst. Grill the scallops on each side for a minute or so until they’re cooked through and golden on each side.
When you’ve turned the scallops once, add your pancetta or bacon to the griddle and cook until crisp and golden brown. Just before everything is ready to come out of the pan, put your pancetta or bacon on top of the scallops so the fat drips down and flavours them.
While that’s going, snap the woody ends off the asparagus stalks and throw them away, keeping the delicate tips. Drop these tips in the boiling water and cook for a minute before adding the frozen peas. Cook for a minute more, drain well and put in a bowl to flavour. Toss the cooked veg in some olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper and a few knobs of the minty butter. Put a plate on top of the bowl to keep the vegetables warm.
Pile your wonderfully-flavoured vegetables onto two warmed plates and top with the pancetta or bacon, scallops and some rocket leaves. Finish by drizzling over a bit of extra virgin olive oil and serve with a nice wedge of lemon.
• 100g butter
• a small bunch of mint, leaves picked
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• zest of 1 lemon
• 8 fresh scallops, removed from the shell and trimmed
• olive oil
• 6 rashers of pancetta or thinly-sliced bacon, the best quality you can afford
• a bunch of asparagus
• 150g frozen peas
• a small handful of wild rocket leaves
• extra virgin olive oil