Easy Italian Meals For Spring

Scott Conant has been welcoming diners with modern Italian cooking at his award-winning "L'Impero" restaurant, and his popular "Alto" eatery, both in New York City.

Conant kicks off The Early Show's weeklong "Culinary Inspirations" series on the first day of spring Monday by showing how to create simple, but refined and modern meals that are perfect for the season and full of flavor.

Every day this week, a top chef will share secrets in "Culinary Inspirations."

Conant is rapidly becoming one of America's most beloved and respected chefs. Gracefully balancing the honesty and simplicity of Italy's cucina rustica with the ambitious refined notes of alta cucina, he has simultaneously tapped into America's love affair with Italian food and redefined it in pursuit of higher levels of Italian cuisine.

In May 2004, Conant was named one of America's Best New Chefs by Food and Wine magazine.

His first cookbook, "Scott Conant's New Italian Cooking," published in October, features more than 120 recipes reflecting his passion for true Italian cooking, but without the fuss. He knows people don't have time to spend hours cooking every night. Conant co-authored the book with which he co-authored with Joanne McAllister Smart.

Incidentally, Conant's version of Italian fare doesn't include lasagna or pizza.

On The Early Show Monday, Conant prepares recipes from his restaurants and cookbook.


(Serves 6)

4 large sea scallops, preferably diver scallops
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 scallions, sliced very, very thin on the bias
1 cup micro or baby greens
Sea salt
Bottarga, shaved very thin (optional)

Slice the scallops crosswise into very thin rounds, each 1/8 inch thick. Lay the slices in a single layer on a large plate and drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle about a teaspoon of the scallions over the scallops, wrap them in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until very cold, at least an hour and up to 4 hours ahead of serving.

When ready to serve, divide the baby greens among six plates and top with the slices of scallops. Sprinkle just a tiny bit of sea salt over each. Finish with the tiniest bit of shaved bottarga. Drizzle the plate with any remaining olive oil and lemon juice from the scallops and serve immediately.