This cute little starter recipe is one I conceived for a recent dinner party I catered for. All the dishes nodded towards the flavours and aromas of North Africa, as I thought it fitting for a summer dinner party - wholesome foods, with rich but delicate flavours.
At the base of this dish are chickpeas which add substance and rich nuttiness. These are simmered very gently in a fragrant broth of vegetable stock, spring onions and saffron. I was careful not to overheat them as I wanted a subtle contrast of the warm legumes with cool, juicy pomegranate and fine shreds of red onion. To add extra flavour, steamed clams were mixed through - and the dish topped with a juicy seared (diver-caught) scallop. A few peashoots added a flourish of green to the dish.
2 large (diver-caught) Scallops
300g Palourde or Venus Clams
1/2 Red Onion
1 300g tin of Chick Peas
3/4 Spring Onions
Good pinch of Saffron
500ml Vegetable Stock
Splash of white wine for steaming open the clams
Peashoots to decorate
Firstly set to work on the broth to simmer the chick peas in - lightly saute the chopped spring onions until translucent, add the saffron and the vegetable stock - bring to a gentle simmer. Drain the chick peas and add to the broth, remaining on a gentle simmer until they become plump and absorb the flavours of the broth. Finely slice the onion and set aside, and remove the juicy seeds from the pomegranate, keep these cool until serving. Steam open the clams with the white wine - discarding any that refuse to open. Season the scallop and sear for a few minutes on each side in a little butter, until caramelised and juicy. To serve add the clams to the warm chickpeas, along with a spoonful or the strained cooking liquor. Divide between bowls, and scatter with the red onion and the chilled beads of pomegranate. Finish with the seared scallop and peashoots and a drizzle with a Mandarin infused olive oil (I use Colonna).