This dish has a tomato-saffron sauce that is absolutely delicious with the tender scallops and shrimp. (Be sure to serve it with lots of crusty bread for mopping up the sauce.) It's very light, fresh and healthy with fragrant lemon zest and fresh basil, making it a perfect spring or summer seafood dinner. I can usually pretty well envision how a dish will taste just from reading the recipe, but I must say this one surprised me by just how insanely good it was the first time I made it. It's become a regular repeater at our house, which only happens to the very best recipes since we like to try new ones so often. If you like seafood you really should try it.
Saffron is a key ingredient in the flavor profile and the recipe won't be the same without it (ditto the lemon and fresh basil). Crumble the saffron threads as you put them in the sauce for more flavor and more even distribution. Someone gave me a teeny-tiny mortar and pestle for that very purpose several years ago. I think it's hilarious because it's so small but I must admit it works great. I've never seen them in any store and have no idea where it came from. Don't you just love it?
I typically cut the scallops in half horizontally for this recipe, for a couple of reasons. First of all, scallops should not be over-cooked or they get tough. Since sea scallops are often really big, it's harder to be sure they're cooked all the way through without over-cooking them. Cutting them in half results in a faster cook time, plus they're easier to eat and you have more of them in the dish. I think five or six thinner scallops look much more attractive and plentiful (along with the shrimp) then two or three giant ones. Searing them gives an attractive color, a nice caramelized crust, and additional flavor.
One thought about the diced tomatoes - I almost always use fire-roasted tomatoes because I think it adds a little more flavor and I like the little black flecks. It's strictly a personal preference, but I would suggest checking the sodium content of whatever brand you choose because canned tomato products are notoriously high in sodium. Same thing for the chicken broth.
This is a fast and easy meal to prepare so it's perfect for any night of the week, although I think it's certainly impressive enough to serve to company.
Venetian Shrimp and Scallops
¾ lb sea scallops, cut in half horizontally
¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large shallot, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes with juice
¼ teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
¾ lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
12 leaves fresh basil, shredded or torn
1 lemon, zested
Hot crusty bread
Lightly coat the sea scallops in the seasoned flour. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the scallops and brown for 1 minute on each side. Remove.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary, then add the garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Reduce heat and sauté 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add wine to the pan and scrape up any pan drippings. Reduce wine 1 minute, then add chicken broth, tomatoes with their juice, and crumbled saffron. When liquids come to a bubble, add shrimp and cook 3 minutes. Return scallops to the pan and cook everything together for 2 minutes longer. Transfer shrimp, scallops and sauce to individual shallow bowls and top with basil and lemon zest.
Pass with bread for mopping up the juices.