The sweet flavour of scallops is complemented by the acidity of sorrel, robust sweetness of grilled pepper and slight bitterness of witlof. The palate of this salad is brought together by a hazelnut vinaigrette. I recommend buying scallops with the roe attached, if possible, for the best flavour. Sourdough bread is likely to dry out, so use a Vienna-style loaf or brioche. This is an elegant entrée for formal dining.

This recipe is an extract from Salades by Damien Pignolet.

Serves
6 as an entrée
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Ingredients

2 red peppers
2 bunches sorrel, stalks removed, leaves washed at the last minute and patted dry
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
20ml Noilly Prat vermouth or dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
20ml double cream
50g hazelnut kernels
12 × 4cm × 1.5cm × 5mm-thick croûtons cut from Vienna-style bread or brioche
Extra virgin olive oil
36 scallops (with roe if possible)
2 heads small red witlof, leaves separated, trimmed to half their length
2 small heads white witlof (or the inner leaves of larger ones), leaves separated, trimmed to half their length

Vinaigrette
60ml hazelnut oil
40ml grapeseed oil
2-3 teaspoons cider, seaweed, eschalot and fleur de sel vinegar, to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grill the peppers over a direct gas flame or on a cast-iron chargrill until blackened. Transfer to a plate and seal with plastic film for 15 minutes. Peel off the skins with your fingertips and with the aid of a paring knife. Don’t be tempted to wash off the skin since this will spoil the flavour. Slice off the tops and bottoms then cut in halves lengthwise and remove the seeds and membrane, then cut into very thin matchsticks.

Place the sorrel, garlic and vermouth in a saucepan, season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover the pan and cook over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sorrel has collapsed to a moist purée. Increase the heat to evaporate the liquid, then add the cream. Adjust the seasoning, turn onto a plate and cover with plastic film.

Place the hazelnuts in a small ovenproof frying pan and toast in the oven until the skins split. Turn immediately into a sieve and use a clean tea towel to rub them against the sieve; this will remove most of the skins. Return to the oven and toast again; watch carefully since they burn easily. Turn onto a plate to cool, then chop very finely.

Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C. Paint the croûtons lightly with olive oil and toast in the oven until pale golden, keeping a close eye on them to ensure they don’t dry out and become hard.

To make the vinaigrette, whisk the hazelnut and grapeseed oils with the vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Put most of the vinaigrette into a good-sized bowl.

Pick over each scallop, trimming and discarding the hard tissue. Trim off the scallop roe and set aside.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan over high heat to near smoking temperature. Season the scallops, then add very little olive oil to the pan and sear the scallops in batches. They should gain some colour but remain raw inside. Transfer the scallops to the vinaigrette as they are cooked, tossing immediately so that the flavours mingle.

Distribute the witlof and peppers between 6 entrée plates, spread the sorrel on the croûtons, then place 2 on each plate. Put the scallops on the croûtons, then dust them with hazelnuts. Add the remaining hazelnuts to the juices in the bowl and use to moisten the leaves and peppers. Serve at once.

This is an edited extract from the book Salades by Damien Pignolet, published by Lantern, RRP$59.95.