Tuesday, 14 April 2009

scallops w lentils, pancetta & sage

I have been eyeing off this recipe ever since my sister gave us this cookbook in March 2007. It was the first dish I marked and one of those I coveted and craved after (hence another Food Challenge), and yet it wasn’t until April 2009 that I finally made it.

Why did it take me so long?

I suppose the recipe seemed complicated and fiddly. Too many ingredients not easily on hand. Too many steps.

But when you break it down it’s pretty easy. Boil in one pot. Fry in another. Done.

Don’t be like me. This recipe is worth the effort. Just make it.

The lentils provide a warm, earthy backdrop to the sweet scallops, crispy sage and salty pancetta. The asparagus brings some fresh flavour while the lemon crème fraîche is an delightful end to the composition. Sublime.

The lentils could easily be made and served without the other accompaniments, as a great vegetarian side dish. I kept some “uncontaminated” from the scallops and served them to Jonas, who has since requested a repeat performance.

One of the wonderful aspects of this dish is the crispy sage leaves. I just adore these leaves fried until brittle and crunchy then paired with anything soft and sweet like fish or pasta.

Scallops w Lentils, Pancetta & Sage

Recipe from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver. Serves 4.

300g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 potato, peeled
1 tomato
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 heaped tablespoons crème fraîche (or thick yoghurt)
Juice of 1 lemon
32 baby asparagus spears, woody bases trimmed (or 3-4 large ones)
12 slices pancetta (or smoked, streaky bacon)
12 large scallops (or 16 small scallops)
24 sage leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil, for frying


1. In a saucepan, combine lentils with garlic cloves, bay leaf, potato and tomato. Cover with water.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender but holding their shape (ie not mushy).

3. Drain off 90% of the water. Discard the bay leaf.

4. Peel the tomato skin and discard. Return tomato to pot.

5. Mash the tomato, garlic and potato into the lentils with a fork. The lentils actually seem to hold their shape while the mashed vegetables help to create a sauce around the lentils.

6. Add the parsley, red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warmish.

7. Season the crème fraîche with salt and pepper to taste. Add just enough lemon juice to give it a twang. Set aside.

8. Heat a little olive oil in a large non-stick pan then fry pancetta.

9. Once golden and crisp, remove and set aside.

10. Season scallops.

11. In the same frying pan, add asparagus and scallops and cook until scallops are golden on each side and asparagus is tender but still crunchy.

12. Remove from pan and set aside.

13. Finally, add some more olive oil and fry sage leaves for 40 seconds on each side until crispy.

14. Divide lentils between four plates, top each with 8 baby asparagus spears, 3 pancetta slices, 3 large scallops and 6 crispy sage leaves. Serve with a dollop of lemon crème fraîche.

Salvia officinalis
is a common herb that delivers an anything thing but common flavour to your cooking. Not only has it been a medicinal herb for millennia, but it also acts as an ornamental plant with its soft, dusty-green leaves.

In European cooking sage is often served with fatty meats (particularly pork), onions or cheese and can be included in sausages. The classic Italian sage and burnt butter pasta sauce has been popular for decades and in the Balkans sage is used to flavour spirits.

Once upon a time, sage was prescribed for every illness, hence it’s name “salvia” meaning “to heal”. It was used for everything from sprains, fertility, sore throats, swelling, bleeding, snakebites and even to ward away evil. For instance sage, along with thyme, rosemary and lavender was one of the main ingredients of the Four Thieves Vinegar, believed to protect people from the plague.

Modern sciences shows sage to have healing effects as an “anhidrotic, antibiotic, antifungal, astringent, antispasmodic, estrogenic, hypoglycemic, and tonic”.

This recipe is my contribution to Weekend Herb Blogging, this week hosted by Prof. Kitty from wonderfully named blog The Cabinet of Prof. Kitty. Be sure to visit this recap!

Other blogger recipes using sage:

Apricot, Sage & Cornmeal Cookies - Lottie + Doof
Baked White Beans w Tuna & Sage - Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Biscuits w Sausage & Sage Gravy - Pinch My Salt
Butternut Squash Cupcakes w Sage Frosting - Vanilla Garlic
Cauliflower w Sage Butter & Eggs - Nami Nami
Chicken Liver & Sage Salad - Dirty Sugar Cookies
Corn Crackers w Rosemary & Sage - Anne'Food
Crispy Sage & Brown Butter Pasta - 80 breakfasts
Fresh Fig & Sage Grilled Pizza - The Left Over Queen
Game Casserole w Cider & Sage - Food, Glorious Food
Guinness Stew w Sage & Ginger - The Hungry Mouse
Pork Chops w Apple, Sage & Pancetta - Closet Cooking
Rabbit Lasagne w Mushrooms & Sage-Scented Bechamel - Food Stories
Roasted Root Vegetables w Maple Sage Glaze - Food Blogga
Sage & Caramelized Onion Risotto Cups - sugarlaws
Sage Focaccia - Baking Bites
Sage Ice Cream - pastry studio
Sage Lady (cocktail) - Yum Sugar
Sage Steamed Snap Beans - Lucullian Delights
Sage, Honey & Pecorino Heart Bread - Ms. Adventures in Italy
Sage-Pecan Pesto - Kalyn's Kitchen
Sage, Pine Nut & Pecorino Scones - Pro Bono Baker
Sage, Walnut & Dried Fig Stuffing - 101 Cookbooks
Savory Sage Corn Cakes - Gluten Free Cooking School
Soothing Chicken & Sage Dumpling Soup - canarygirl.com
Strawberry & Sage Ice Cream - Ice Cream Ireland
Vegetarian Apple-Cider Ginger Sage Gravy - A Veggie Venture
Walnut-Sage Potatoes Au Gratin - Gluten Free Bay
Watercress & Fresh Sage Soup - Chocolate & Zucchini
White Bean, Crème Fraîche & Sage Frittata - Cook Think
Yellow Fin Tuna, Sage Oil, Hibiscus Salt - Wrightfood
Zucchini, Sage & Scamorza Terrine - The Passionate Cook



  1. oh! i love lentils and have been really craving them, especially as the weather keeps getting cooler. this recipe looks lovely - and i like the info about the sage.

  2. Those scallops look delicious. When I first saw the dish, I thought that the creme fraiche was goat's cheese. I'm considering trying it with the goat's cheese (I often pair it with lentils... if you haven't tried it, you should!), although I'm not sure if it will overwhelm the delicate flavor of the scallops...

  3. Great post! I love scallops, although of course I have to buy frozen ones here. And what a great collection of sage recipes too.

    (Do you know I don't own one single Jamie Oliver book? Need to work on that.)

  4. That dish sounds so delightful! Too bad there are too many ingredients I just can't get here. I would have loved to try it out, especially the bit about crispy fried sage leaves - that sounds very intriguing. :)

  5. Excellent post for WHB - I've been cooking more with lentils so this one jumped out at me. I smiled when I saw the source - I have the cookbook but somehow missed this recipe. I shall have to do somehting about that shortly!


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