For the May/June issue, intrepid food blogger Hannah Hayes visited award-winning chef and instructor Jean Vendeville, the chair of Savannah Technical Institute’s culinary program. Photography by Hannah Hayes.
Chef Vendeville and his students may be the key ingredient to injecting some gastronomical gravitas into Savannah’s food scene. The American Culinary Federation recently granted Vendeville’s Culinary Institute of Savannah “exemplary” status and seven years’ accreditation—the highest review awarded.
On her trip to CIS, Hannah enjoyed the goods…and managed to get the recipe.
Seared Sea Scallops with Tomato-Bacon-and-Spinach Saffron Couscous with a Pesto Cream Sauce
8 Spanish saffron threads
4¼ cups water
4 cups Israeli couscous
1½ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
2 tablespoons clarified butter
12 U-10 dry-packed sea scallops, patted dry and seasoned with course salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 slices slab bacon, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, peeled, cored, seeded and roughly chopped (Note: you may substitute canned diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon grated shallots
4 cups leaf spinach
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the saffron threads with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the saffron stock until the threads lose their color.
Remove the saffron threads from the stock and return the stock to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the couscous, and cover the saucepan with a lid. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
In a small saucepan bring the cream and pesto to a boil, allowing it to thicken and slightly reduce. Stir constantly to avoid scorching. Remove the pesto cream from the heat. Cover and keep it warm.
In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the clarified butter. Once the butter is shimmering, adds the scallops, cooking on each side 3-4 minutes until seared to a golden brown. You may want to cook the scallops in small batches to prevent overcrowding the pan and to allow for thorough cooking. Once the scallops are done, set them on a platter and cover them to keep them warm while you finish to couscous.
Add the butter and bacon to the sauté pan and cook over medium heat until the bacon begins to brown. Add the tomato, shallots and spinach. Once the spinach has wilted, add the couscous, tossing it to combine. Taste and add freshly ground salt and pepper as needed. To serve, spoon the one-quarter of the couscous on a plate, top with three scallops and drizzle with the pesto cream sauce.