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  • {Recipe Redux} Pan Seared Scallops with Harissa Yogurt Pea Puree

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Pan Seared Scalops with Harissa, Mint, Yogurt andPea Puree
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    I love a beautiful plate of food. Maybe it’s the result of having subsisted on a formerly poor diet of little nutritional value and even less color and variety. When I embarked on my journey to healthy eating, it was like someone flicked a switch. You know that moment in the Wizard of Oz when the movie goes from black and white to color? Cooking and eating is like that for me. I think that many who struggle with having a healthy relationship with food and eating is because we become so disconnected from it. Maybe we don’t cook at home as often as we would like, or our penchant for pizza or takeout has dulled our senses. All of them. From taste, to smell, to sight.

    That’s why I love a beautiful plate of delicious, healthy, vibrant food. And that’s why I’ve had the idea for this recipe milling around in my mind for a while. I was pretty sure it would be delicious–I was positive it would be beautiful. I was right on both counts:

    Pan seared scallops with harissa yogurt pea puree kindred-kitchen4_edited

    So, I have the team over at Recipe Redux to thank for inspiring me to get this one out of my head and onto the blog. My original idea for this recipe came from my discovery that mint tastes AMAZING with peas. I know, right?! The first time I had mint with peas was when I made this Barefoot Contessa recipe for a really simple quick garden pea soup. This is hands-down one of my favorite all-time soups and I always imagined that this combination of mint and peas would be perfect for scallops. So, when the January Recipe Redux challenge for January invited contributors to work with smoke and spice, my mind immediately wandered to Harissa and this long-pondered recipe came to light.

    Now, for those of you who have not yet heard of Harissa–you will. It seems to be the new it-spice and has even been predicted to knock Sriracha off its pedestal, since (apparently) it has run its course (oh foodies, how fickle your palate is). Fine with me, since I’m not a big fan of that hot chili spice that has become so ubiquitous. I have had a love of Harissa for a while and am excited that this divine smoky, subtly spicy blend has been discovered by those whose job it is to tell us we should like something. You know, like tastemakers (or something). If you’re wondering how the two compare, think the sexiness of Marilyn Munroe versus that of Katherine Hepburn. One burns bright hot; subtle nuance is not her style while the other smolders and is somehow sweet and spicy and leaves you wondering what you’ve just experienced.

    Pan seared scallops with Harissa, Mint, and Yogurt Puree

    Have I mentioned I LOVE the stuff?

    You’ll find Harissa in many forms, including granulated spice blend, canned or jarred paste. You could even make it homemade, if you’re so inclined. Harissa is a staple in North African cooking, where the spice blend originated, though you’ll see it in Mediterranean cooking as well. Traditionally it’s a blend of roasted red peppers, a variety of hot chili peppers, garlic and spices including coriander, cumin and caraway seed. I love that it’s the kind of spicy that hits you just at the back of your throat and that it’s a true spicy (not burning) hot. The smokiness from the cumin makes it a great addition to fish and vegetable dishes and even popcorn.

    For this recipe, I used a granulated Harissa spice blend and mellowed it out a bit by blending it with a bit of yogurt and letting it rest for at least 1/2 hour while I prepared the rest of the dish. The salad is composed of peppery micro greens (any variety would work). If you’ve never had them, microgreens are touted for their nutrition profile (up to five times the amount of vitamins and carotenoids than mature version of the plants they grow into), and they have a wonderful texture and crunch. If you don’t have access to microgreens, arugula (rocket lettuce) is a good stand-in. I finished the scallops with a light sprinkle of smoked finishing sea salt (really getting into my Recipe Redux challenge this month :)). You could omit this if you don’t have smoked sea salt hanging out in your pantry (and really, who does?). This is an incredibly simple, light and healthy meal and would be great for a casual dinner party or just dinner at home with your significant other.

    Pan Seared Scallops with Harissa, Mint and Yogurt Pea Puree

    {Recipe Redux} Pan Seared Scallops with Harissa Yogurt Pea Puree

    servings: Serves 2 | time: About 30 minutes

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    ¼ cup low fat yogurt

    1 tsp. granulated harissa spice blend

    Pinch salt

    2 tsp. lemon juice

    1 cup peas

    4 large mint leaves

    1 cup micro greens

    Pinch each of salt and freshly ground pepper

    Lemon juice

    Extra virgin olive oil

    2 tsp, each olive oil and butter

    8 large scallops

    Fresh ground black pepper

    3 fresh chives, snipped into small pieces with kitchen shears

    Smoked finishing sea salt


    1. Blend the yogurt, harissa, salt and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish

    2. Add about 1 inch of water to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the peas and mint and cook until peas are very tender–about 8 minutes

    3. Drain the peas, retaining a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid

    4. Place the peas and mint in the container of a high-powered blender. Add the yogurt and a couple of tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Add a pinch of salt and blend on high until smooth, adding more of the cooking liquid as needed. You want it to be the consistency of a thick cream soup. Cover the container and set aside while you prepare the salad

    5. Place the microgreens in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Drizzle with about 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Toss and set aside

    6. Place the scallops on a paper towel and dry both sides. Sprinkle with a pinch of fresh ground black pepper

    7. Heat the butter and olive oil over high heat, preferably in a well-seasoned cast iron skillet  (or you can use a non-stick skillet). You want the pan to get really hot before adding the scallops to get a good crust

    8. Once the pan is heated, add the scallops. Don’t mess with them! Just let them sear over medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes, just until a nice crust forms. Turn scallops and heat for an additional 3-4 minutes, just until cooked through (they’ll become opaque). Sprinkle with just a touch of the smoked finishing sea salt (or use a sprinkle of regular sea salt)

    9. Assemble the dish: Place a couple of heaping spoonfuls of the puree on one side of the dish and, with the bottom of the spoon, drag some of the puree across the dish. Line 4 scallops across the puree, garnish with a few microgreens and a sprinkle of the chives. Pile the microgreen salad on one side of the scallops. Enjoy!


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    8 responses to “{Recipe Redux} Pan Seared Scallops with Harissa Yogurt Pea Puree”

    1. rachel says:

      mmmm I love scallops! need to try some harissa ASAP!

    2. What a gorgeous recipe. I have never used harissa spice blend .. so it’s now on my must-buy list!!

    3. that is certainly a beautiful plate of food! Love the flavor combos here, especially pea and mint. Makes me think of spring!

    4. Dana says:

      Another delicious and beautiful recipe! I’ve been wanting to try out Harissa in my cooking and this seems like a perfect way to break in!

      • You’ll love it! From the first time I tried it, I could immediately think of lots of ways to use it. I need to make the homemade paste, just to see how different it is from the granulated spice mix. Let me know how you use it!

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