I’m back in France! And eating unpasturized dairy! But until next Friday rolls around, you’ll have to read posts about what I did in the United States.
Just like the “every country has its fried dough” theory, most cultures have their chosen nut products. America has peanuts and pecans, a lot of African countries use ground nuts in soups and stews, and much of Europe fills everything with hazelnuts. In Turkey your chocolate comes with pistachios, Greeks lean on walnuts heavily for their pastries, and when I think of pine nuts, I think of Italy.
But I’ve only ever consumed peanut and almond butters in the salty spread category. Pistachio butter’s time had come.
The recipe for any nut butter is essentially the same. Throw a cup or so of the nut of choice (roasted, as I tried raw once and… no) into a food processor with a little bit of salt and let it go to work. Season as needed. Pistachio butter turned out to be drier than other butters I made, and while it tasted great on bread with tart fruits like cranberries or raspberries, but I decided it could serve better.
I love fruits in all forms, so the fact that pistachios go so well with them gives the nut bonus points for me. I found recipes for oodles of cakes, late summer fruit salads, savory salsa, and one featuring apples, scallops, and saffron from the BBC. Considering that I haven’t had the best food of my life in England, the BBC has a amazing cooking website. This recipe, however, was a little froufrou. I pared it down to be more family- and lazy-person friendly. Served with fresh steamed broccoli, we still dined in style.
Saffron-glazed scallops with apple and pistachio purée
Adapted from the BBC
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1 star anise
2 Braeburn apples, cored and chopped
4 oz unsalted pistachios, shelled (or 1/3 to 1/2 c. previously made nut spread, sans or low on salt)
salt and pepper
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1 Tbsp clear honey
1 small pinch saffron strands (you can plausibly use a tiny amount of turmeric, though the taste is not quite the same)
1 Granny Smith apple
12 sea scallops, cleaned. About 1 lb.
1) Heat olive oil with cinnamon, cloves and anise. Fry gently for 2-3 minutes, or until your kitchen smells like Christmasy heaven. Add the chopped apples and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until soft.
2) Discard the spices and add half the pistachios to the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes and transfer to a food processor and purée before adding lemon juice (1/2 tsp to start), salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. If you are me, you just threw the pistachio spread and cooked apples into the machine, then followed through.
3) Heat the vinegar in a small pan until reduced to about a teaspoon. Be patient. I’m not. Stir in honey and saffron and keep warm over low heat.
4) Peel, core, and slice or julienne your Granny. Smith.
5) Heat up a large non-stick frying pan until smoking hot. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, then sear the scallops for one minute each. Thirty seconds per side, until golden brown all over. (Clearly this step was harder with my tiny scallops.) Dip each scallop in the glaze.
6) Serve with pistachio/apple puree in rounds on the plate, topped with scallops, topped with apple slices/matchsticks. Add your sides!