In Tuscany the white bean (cannellini) is king, but Venice prefers the variegated pinto or borlotti bean. “We never saw white beans in Venice when I was growing up,” Francesco says. In this dish a puree of the beans becomes the velvety, herb-infused sauce for meaty seared scallops.
Sea Scallops with Bean Cream
- 1 cup (185 g) dried barlotti (cranberry) beans or pinto beans
- 10 sea scallops
- 1 small carrot, peeled
- 1 small onion, peeled
- Stalk celery
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- A mix of bread crumbs, grated parmesan cheese, chopped parsley and thyme
- Cover the beans with water to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm) and allow to soak 4 hours or overnight. Drain the beans, place them in a saucepan, and cover with water to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm). Add the carrot, onion, celery, garlic, and bunch of herbs. Bring to a simmer and cook, partly covered, until the beans are tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- In the beginning of the cooking, you may have to skim foam that collects on the surface. When the beans are tender, drain them, reserving about ½ cup (125 ml) of the cooking liquid.
- Puree all but 1 cup (250 g) of the beans in a food processor with the cooked garlic, carrot, onion, and reserved cooking liquid. Add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer to a saucepan and set aside.
- Slice the scallops in half horizontally. Mix the bread crumbs with the cheese, parsley, and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Dust the scallops with the bread crumb mixture.
- Heat the remaining oil in a heavy skillet. Lightly brown the slices of sea scallops in the oil, then transfer them to absorbent paper.
- Toss the reserved cup of beans in the skillet just enough to reheat them. Reheat the bean sauce.
- To serve, spoon 5 to 6 tablespoons (75 to 90 ml) of the bean sauce on each of 4 warm plates.
- Arrange 5 slices of the scallops, slightly overlapping, in a circle on the sauce.
- Spoon a few tablespoons of the whole beans in the center, garnish with sprigs of thyme and serve.