Scallops with Saffron Leek Sauce

A tasty shellfish dish with a delicate sauce.

Servings: 4-6

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  • ½ tsp saffron threads
  • ¼ cup hot water
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 large leeks, halved lengthwise, cleaned well and thinly sliced across
  • 2/3 cup dry vermouth
  • 3 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • ½ tsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • ¼ tsp white pepper
  • 1 lb sea scallops


  1. In a small bowl combine saffron and hot water.  Set aside.
  2. In medium saucepan, melt butter.  Add leeks.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes until leeks are soft, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add vermouth, increase heat to medium.  Cook 6 minutes or until vermouth is almost evaporated.  
  4. Stir in tomato paste, cream, ginger,  and reserved saffron liquid.   Simmer until mixture is thick and creamy.  Season with ½ tsp salt and black pepper.
  5. While sauce cooks, bring milk to boil in large saucepan. 
  6. Season with remaining salt and white pepper. 
  7. Remove from heat.
  8. Add scallops.  If liquid does not cover scallops, add boiling water to cover. 
  9. Cover saucepan.  Let scallops poach in milk for 5 minutes or until opaque through center. 
  10. Drain liquid.
  11. Ladle leek sauce on 4 individual serving plates.  Place scallops on leeks and spoon additional sauce over top.
Source: “Noteworthy Two”  A recipe collection from the Chicago Ravinia Festival