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Photo by: Jennifer Martine
Comments: 0


Yield : Serves 4 as a starter


  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 pound stinging nettles
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 16 farmed bay scallops


Fill a large pot halfway full with water. Add 1/4 cup salt and bring to a boil.

Fill the sink or a large bowl with cold water. Using gloves or tongs, submerge the nettles in the water and let them sit for 5 minutes. Remove the nettles and discard the water. Wearing rubber gloves, pull the leaves off of the stems and discard the stems.

Put the nettles in the boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Drain and spread the nettles on a baking sheet. Let cool completely. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible and coarsely chop.

Place the nettles in the bowl of a food processor with the mint, garlic, pine nuts, and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Process until the mixture has formed a paste. With the machine running, pour in 1/3 cup olive oil. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Slice off the small side muscle from the scallops, then rinse in cold water and thoroughly pat dry. Season with salt on both sides. Heat a skillet for about 1 minute. Add the 3 tablespoons olive oil and test to make sure it’s hot (a drop of liquid should sizzle when it hits the skillet). Place the scallops in the skillet. They should have plenty of room so that they sear instead of steam. If the skillet is small, sear them in batches. Cook the first side for 1 1/2 minutes, then flip and cook the second side for 1 minute. When done, the scallops should have a brown crust but still be translucent in the center.

Place 4 scallops on a plate and top each with a teaspoon of pesto. Season with the remaining lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with a few small mint leaves.

© 2009 Louisa Shafia

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