Scallops with Sweet Potato, Spinach & Vanilla Saffron Sauce

Inspired by recipe in Issue 118 of Cuisine Magazine

One generous serving (or two small serves)

12 scallops

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 vanilla bean *(reserve 1/2 for sauce)

olive oil

1 medium-sized, orange-fleshed sweet potato

olive oil

flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

2-3 large handfuls baby spinach leaves


flaky sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

1/2 cup fish or chicken stock

1/2 cup white wine

2 cloves garlic, peeled (not chopped)

2 bay leaves

pinch saffron threads

1/2 vanilla bean *(see above)

1-1/2 teaspoons cream

2-3 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F).  Peel the sweet potato and cut into smallish cubes.  Line a roasting pan with a sheet of parchment paper, add the sweet potato, drizzle liberally with olive oil, sprinkle over some flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss well to make sure all the sweet potato is well coated.  Roast in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes until golden and crispy.

Meanwhile, put the lemon juice into a shallow bowl.  Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and set one half aside to use for the sauce.  Scrape the black seeds out of the other half and add them, along with the scraped out bean pod, to the lemon juice.  Add a generous drizzle of olive oil, stir to combine, and add scallops to the mixture.  Leave to marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the sauce.

Put stock and wine into a small saucepan with the whole garlic cloves and bay leaves, set over high heat and allow to reduce by half.  Scrape the seeds out of the reserved 1/2 vanilla bean, and add the seeds and pod to the pan, along with the saffron strands.  Reduce down to about 1-1/2 tablespoons.  Set aside to infuse while you prepare to cook the spinach and scallops.

Set a non-stick pan over high heat, add the scallops to the hot pan and sear on both sides.  These take just a moment or two on each side and care should be taken not to over-cook or they will be rubbery.

In a separate pan, heat a generous knob of butter, add the spinach leaves, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until just wilted - again just a moment or two.

While the spinach and scallops are cooking, finish the sauce.  Strain the sauce into another small pan (discarding the vanilla bean, bay leaves and garlic clove), and add the cream.  Bring to a simmer, then add in the butter a teaspoonful at a time, whisking constantly so that each addition is fully emulsified.

To serve, place the roasted sweet potato on a serving plate, and top with the wilted spinach.

Arrange the seared scallops over the top, and drizzle generously with the sauce.