Grilled scallops with bacon and pesto
Although pesto is easy to make, buying the Italian basil can be costly. I use good commercial brands of pesto; the types sold in the frozen or refrigerated sections of supermarkets are much better than the stuff that contains lots of ingredients to make it shelf-stable. The best brands of pesto contain just basil, olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese, perhaps with a little citric acid to preserve the bright green colour.
For the bacon, use a streaky type with a fair amount of fat; back bacon is too dry. Choose a brand that's not too salty or over-smoked, or it will overwhelm the delicacy of the scallops. The scallops can have the rich roe on or off, as you prefer.
Serve this easy-to-make dish with warm, crusty bread, and a salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice, then sprinkled with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
8-10 fresh scallops, approximately 3.5cm in diameter
4-5 strips of bacon
Ground paprika, to taste
Rough-flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
Sprinkle paprika and black pepper over the scallops.
Cut the bacon into strips that fit around the scallops with a slight overlap, and secure the ends with toothpicks.
Grill the scallops on a barbecue over indirect heat; or lay them on a shallow pan lined with aluminium foil and cook under a medium-high flame of the oven grill. With both methods, turn the scallops, as necessary, until the bacon is thoroughly cooked and lightly charred in a few places, and the scallops are half-cooked. (They'll be tough if overcooked.)
Remove and discard the toothpicks.
Sprinkle some pepper and a little rough-flaked sea salt, then serve with the lemon wedges and a small spoonful of pesto.