Recipes to make before the ingredients are gone for the year
Jerusalem artichokes and scallops work well together but will take their hiatus from the market soon
Seared scallops and Jerusalem artichoke purée. Photograph: Emma Jervis
This week I’m exploring two ingredients, with a sense of urgency (as both their seasons are coming to a close) and I am very excited by the fact that they work so well together.
When you are cooking with the seasons, there is a great joy as produce comes and goes. There’s a freshness when the new season’s produce comes and the final weeks give an excuse to repeat favourite dishes before they disappear from the market. The Jerusalem artichoke is a tuber, and not to be confused with the globe artichoke which grows above ground and is very pretty by comparison. Jerusalem artichokes come from North America and are part of the sunflower family. They were given the name artichoke as they resemble the flavour of the heart of the globe artichoke, but are no relation. They are also called sunchoke or earth apple and have nothing to do with Jerusalem. They are a good source of potassium and iron and believed by some to be a natural antibiotic.
We have about a month left in the scallop season and it’s well worth indulging if you can get your hands on ones from our own shores. They cost a little more than the imported ones but are well worth it as the end result is far superior. The scallop and its roe, also known as the coral, is edible but do remember to remove the muscle before cooking.
If you are lucky enough to get them in their shells, place the flat shell on a folded tea towel and gently slide a thin knife in at the slightly opened gap at the top of the shell. Move the knife along the shell until you cut the scallop loose. Once you do this the scallop will open, next take a spoon and scoop out the contents and with a knife remove the scallop and the coral and discard everything else. Scallops are rich and high in protein so not too many will be needed per person.
Jerusalem artichoke soup with Parmesan and agresto
This is a great soup and with every spoonful you feel and know it’s doing you good. You can make this vegetarian by leaving out the anchovy in the sauce, and vegan by dispensing with the cheese. Agresto is an Italian sauce that dates back to the Middle Ages. You’ll have some leftover from this recipe, but you will find many uses for it. It’s full of goodness with the walnuts (brain food) and parsley (iron) and is great as a spread with bread, with lamb stew and with roasted root vegetables. This recipe serves four.
Olive oil or butter
2 medium onions, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
2 medium leeks, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tsp mild curry powder
500g artichokes, scrubbed
Nutmeg to taste
A pinch of smoked paprika
1 litre water
For the agresto sauce
2 anchovy fillets
1 clove of garlic
1 dried red chilli, chopped
Large bunch of parsley leaves, finely chopped
Juice and zest of a lemon
200ml olive oil
1. Heat a medium saucepan and add the oil or butter. Add in the chopped onions, celery and leeks. Toss well in the oil and soften on a medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Let the vegetables braise for 15 minutes on a very low heat without opening the lid.
2. Add the curry powder and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the artichokes and paprika, toss for a couple of minutes and then add the water.
3. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
4. Meanwhile, make the agresto paste. In a food processor, roughly chop the walnuts, anchovy, garlic and dried chilli. Then stir in the parsley leaves and lemon juice and zest. Then gradually add in the olive oil, stirring constantly, and season to taste.
5. When the vegetable in the soup are tender, whizz up in a blender and serve with grated Parmesan and the agresto.
Seared scallops and Jerusalem artichoke purée
I love this dish because it’s an unexpected success. It’s not a combination that naturally springs to mind and is surprising in its appeal. Serves six.
125g (4½ oz) streaky bacon in one piece, cut into chunky lardons
18 fresh, fat scallops, cleaned, roes intact
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Good squeeze of lemon
2tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
For the artichoke purée
500g (1lb 2oz) Jerusalem artichoke
Good squeeze of lemon
150ml (¼ pint) double cream
Salt and white pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A little light chicken stock or water
1. Scrub the artichokes really well and rinse under running water. Slice them and cover with water. Add a good squeeze of lemon (this stops them discolouring) and bring to the boil. Simmer until tender.
2. Drain the artichokes and put them back in the pan. Add the cream. Heat, season with salt and pepper, then purée in a blender, adding the olive oil as you go. You may find that you need to add a little stock or water as well, but remember that you are not making soup. Once the mixture has cooled, you can keep it in the fridge and gently reheat it later.
3. Cook the scallops and bacon just before serving. In a frying pan, cook the bacon in its own fat, which runs as it is heated. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan.
4. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and quickly sear them on each side for about 20 seconds in the reserved bacon fat. The time will depend on the thickness of the scallops; you want them to be just cooked through.
5. Squeeze some fresh lemon over the scallops in the pan, add the parsley, and divide them between the plates, on a pool of artichoke purée, pouring a drizzle of the hot pan juices on top of each helping. Scatter with the hot bacon.
Grilled scallops with pumpkin seed, chilli and coriander sauce
I thank Rick Stein for this recipe, especially as I have had it on my menu for years now, during scallop season. It’s from his Food Heroes book. I love any chance to use pumpkin seeds in a dish due to their health benefits. I also use this sauce as a stuffing under the skin of a roast chicken.
Fish shops are not allowed to sell scallops in their shells anymore so order the shells in advance, for serving, and then keep them for the next time.
50g pumpkin seeds
1 hot chilli, roughly chopped
1 large handful of coriander leaves
2 garlic cloves
150ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lime
2 spring onions
7g Parmesan cheese, grated
16 king scallops, with their shells
Olive oil to cook with
1. First make the sauce: Put the pumpkin seeds, chilli, coriander, garlic, olive oil, lime juice, spring onions and Parmesan in the food processor with half a teaspoon of salt. Blend to a smooth paste.
2. Preheat the grill to high. Put the scallops on a plate, season with salt and pepper and coat well in oil. Place the shells on a baking tray and fill each one with a scallop. Grill for one minute on each side.
3. Spread a teaspoon of the sauce over each scallop and grill for another minute, or until they are just cooked through and the sauce has just started to colour.
4. Serve with some green salad and bread to mop up the juices.