Scallops with Champagne Grapes and Eggplant Caponata

August 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Posted in Seafood | 3 Comments

This is quick, easy, delicious, impressive and fancy pant-sie.  Actually, this is holy canoli good, to quote my friend Lee McCue.

034Whole Foods just got Champagne Grapes in, just in time for this scallop recipe that I found on  For the side dish, I served Eggplant Caponata.

Let’s start with the Eggplant.  You can make it in advance because it’s just fine to serve at room temperature.  If you remember, I had Eggplant Capanota  for the first time this summer at the IPNC lunch in Oregon and it was love at first bite. 

Since I didn’t have a recipe from the Oregon version, I did a Google search and the first recipe that came up was Mario Batali.  I know everyone thinks that Mario Batali walks on water, and for all I know he does since he  wears orange Crocs with gray socks and hangs out with Gwyneth .  Far be it from me to argue since I’m not an Eggplant Caponata expert, but this recipe wasn’t as good as what I had in Oregon.  GOOD, but not as good.   There I said it and I’m glad I did.

Eggplant Caponata

Recipe courtesy Mario Batali

  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1 large Spanish onion, chopped in 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons currants
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili flakes, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (to yield 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 sprigs mint, chopped
  • 1 baguette, sliced into 3/4-inch rounds and toasted on grill or in oven

In a large 12 to 14-inch saute pan, over medium heat, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onions, pine nuts, currants and chili flakes and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.

Add the eggplant, sugar, cinnamon, and cocoa and continue to cook for 5 more minutes. Add the thyme, tomato sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Bring the mixture to a boil.

032Lower the heat and simmer the mixture for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature, garnish with mint and chili flakes. Serve the caponata spooned on crostini or in middle of table with crostini on side to allow guests to help themselves.  Serves 8


 Now for the star of the show: 


Pan-Seared Scallops with Champagne Grapes and Almonds

Makes 4 first-course servings

Despite their name, Champagne grapes aren’t used to make the sparkling wine. Legend has it that the grapes were so named because the tiny grapes resemble bubbles in a glass of champagne. 

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
2/3 cup Champagne grapes (about 4 ounces) or black grapes, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in very large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook butter until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add scallops; cook 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate; tent with foil. Melt remaining butter in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and grapes; sauté until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and any accumulated scallop juices. Bring mixture to boil; season with salt and pepper. Stir in almonds and parsley.

Place 4 scallops on each of 4 plates. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Well…well…well… Bob and I hardly spoke during this meal.   Definitely one to savor.  Holy Canoli!



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  1. I’m so glad you made this…it’s the only time of year to et the grapes and it is so, so good!

    • Thanks so much for this recipe Cathy. We LOVED it. Delicious.

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