PAN-SEARED SEA SCALLOPS ALLA CAPRESE (with basil, red onions and tomatoes, for six)
2 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes
24 fresh basil leaves
3 medium red onions, cut into 1 inch thick slices
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 giant diver scallops (about 2 ounces each), tough ligament removed if necessary, rinsed briefly under cold water and patted dry with paper towels (smaller scallops will suffice if giant ones aren’t available. Shorten the cooking time)
Maldon salt or other coarse sea salt
1 lemon, cut in half
1. Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill. Place a piastra on the grill to preheat (or, place a large cast iron skillet over a high flame on the stove and heat until hot but not smoking).
2. Slice the tomatoes creatively (leave very small ones whole, or halve them) and lay out on a platter. Tear the basil leaves over the tomatoes, strewing them about. Set aside.
3. Season the onion slices on both sides with salt and pepper. Place them on the hot dry piastra (or skillet) and cook, unmoved, for 7 to 10 minutes, until well charred on the first side. Using tongs (or a spatula), carefully turn the slices over and cook for 7 to 10 minutes on the second side, until well charred and softened. Transfer to a plate and let cool slightly, then separate the onion slices into smaller rings and scatter them over the tomatoes. Drizzle the whole mess with 3 to 4 tablespoons of the olive oil.
4. While the onions cook, carve a checkerboard pattern about ¼ inch deep into one side of each scallop. Season the scallops all over with salt and pepper, toss them in a bowl with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and stir gently to coat.
5. Place the scallops on the dry, clean piastra (or skillet), design side down, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, unmoved, until almost cooked – they should be opaque almost all the way through. Flip them over and sear for just 1 minute, then remove them and arrange them on the tomato salad.
6. Sprinkle the scallops and tomatoes with Maldon salt, squeeze the lemon halves over them and serve.
adapted from Mario Batali Italian Grill