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Seared scallops with romesco sauce on green asparagus

Mouthwatering scallops, seasonal asparagus and a hint of chilli make this easy to prepare recipe a dinner party favourite.


To make a romesco, a spicy chilli, tomato and capsicum sauce with crushed almonds and hazelnuts in it, you require some dried ancho chillies, which can be found at good retailers. If you do not find ancho chillies, use peeled red capsicum.

  • 2 ancho chillies, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, blanched, peeled and deseeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 small red chilli, deseeded
  • 40 g (¼ cup) blanched almonds
  • 40 g (¼ cup) hazelnuts
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 red capsicums, roasted, deseeded and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 slices stale bread (if needed)
  • 12 large sea scallops or 20 smaller ones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bunches green asparagus, trimmed and peeled
  • 40 g butter, softened


Preheat the oven to 160°C.


Deseed the ancho chillies and place in a roasting tray with the tomato, garlic, chilli, almonds and hazelnuts. Drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil and roast for 1 hour, stirring from time to time to ensure the mixture does not burn.

Place the contents of the roasting pan in a food processor with the capsicums, vinegar and remaining extra virgin olive oil and process to a paste. If the mixture is too sloppy, add a few pieces of stale bread and process until smooth. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to use.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.

Heat a large frying pan over a high heat. Dry the scallops with paper towel and season them. Add the olive oil to the pan and when it is smoking, place the scallops in the pan.

Turn the scallops over when they have good colour — about 1 minute for large scallops and less for smaller ones. Cook for 30 seconds on the other side and remove to a plate lined with a clean tea towel to suck up the moisture.

Put the asparagus in the boiling water and cook for 1 minute, then drain. They should still be firm at the thicker part of the stalk. Place them on a warm platter and spread the butter over them, season with salt and pepper and top with the scallops.

Spoon some romesco sauce around the scallops and serve.