FreshTartSteph Recipe: Scallops with Morels, Ramps & Saffron-Coconut Milk Pan Sauce

Helloooooo again and Happy Spring! I’ve been away for so long, finishing a cookbook I’ve been working on called Twin Cities Chef’s Table, highlighting Twin Cities chefs, eateries, and our overall food scene, to be published in Fall 2014. It’s been an incredible project to photograph and write, but I’m excited to be back to sharing recipes with you all.

I couldn’t return in May without writing about ramps and morels, two of my favorite foods on the planet, perhaps this year more than any other given the CRAP winter we just had. I mean, wow, that was tough, in the end mentally more than physically, but I can say that because I didn’t have to shovel snow. For you snow shovelers, you are superheroes, and you have definitely earned a feast of morels. A photo of your plate would be a mountain of morels burying those seared scallops…

The recipe below is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook by Joshua Weissman. I’m giving away a copy, in fact, over on my blog Fresh Tart, click over and leave your name in the comments if you’re interested. For the recipe, I gave an option for using fresh morels and ramps—’tis the season, of course—but the dish is gorgeous with dried morels too, which makes it an all-season recipe. As a one-pan dish, it’s a weeknight recipe as well. And as scallops with morels and ramps, it’s a party recipe too!

Scallops with Morels, Ramps & Saffron-Coconut Milk Pan Sauce

Adapted from a recipe in The Slim Palate Paleo Cookbook
Serves 4

Note: In lieu of fresh morels, substitute 1/2 ounce dried morel mushrooms soaked in hot water for 20 minutes. Use the mushroom soaking liquid instead of clam juice. In lieu of ramps, substitute scallions or omit from dish.

1 pound jumbo scallops (2-3 per serving)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
1 shallot, minced
16 (or more!) fresh morel mushrooms, halved (brush away any critters or dirt)
8 ramps, greens coarsely chopped, bulbs halved lengthwise
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 saffron threads, crushed
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup clam juice (or chicken broth)

Using paper towels, pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and when oil is hot, add scallops to the pan. Sear scallops for 2-3 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Flip scallops and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until just cooked through (do not overcook the scallops or they will be tough). Transfer scallops to a large plate to rest.

Turn heat to medium and add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Add shallot and cook for 3-4 minutes, until softened, then add morels. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until morels are soft and browning in spots. Add ramps, garlic, and lemon juice to the pan and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until ramp greens are wilted.

Add saffron threads, coconut milk, and clam juice to the pan. Bring to a simmer and reduce the sauce until thickened lightly, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt (it may not need any if you use clam juice).

Divide scallops among 4 plates. Divide ramps and morels around scallops, then top with pan sauce. Finish with a grinding of black pep