Capesante–Italian for Coquille Saint-Jacques–have long been the attribute of pilgrims traveling on foot to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, on the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. The English name of these mollusks is in fact 'pilgrim scallops.'
Their bivalve shell is also often linked to the image of Venus, the Roman Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility. In the famous Botticelli painting, a stunning blonde Venus is born emerging from the sea, standing naked on a scallop shell.
12 whole, closed scallops
A bunch of Italian flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
100 g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Open your scallops using an oyster-shucking knife, or by sliding the blade of a sharp paring knife in the slit, and delicately forcing the valves open. Save the more concave half shells, discard the flat ones.
Remove the slimy, brown membranes and separate the yellow/orange coral part from the white fleshy disc. Rinse the scallop meats and corals in cold water and pat dry. Then dredge them in the breadcrumbs.
Rinse and thoroughly dry the 6 half shells, they will be your serving dishes.
Sauté the garlic and parsley in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the scallops and cook briefly, until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Dribble with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place 2 molluscs and corals in each valve, daub with the cooking juice, and serve at once. Keep the chilled bottle(s) of Pinot Grigio handy.