I used to be intimidated by the thought of cooking scallops, but then I took a cooking class and the teacher showed us just how easy it is to do. Easy as in 3-4 minutes easy. Yup, three minutes is all it takes to cook scallops! I nestle these tender scallops in a sweet and savory butternut squash purée and drizzle it all with brown butter and sage.
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The Butternut Squash Purée
Rich and oh so tasty this butternut purée is made by roasting the squash with garlic and sage and then blending with parmesan cheese! This purée is the perfect bed for these perfectly caramelized scallops.
How To Work with Butternut Squash:
You can usually find pre-cut butternut squash at the grocery store. As long as it’s fresh, that is great, though you will probably have to cut the cubes even smaller because store bought is usually cut too big for this recipe. If you want to cut your own, here are some tips: Butternut Squash can be a trick to work with unless you have the right tools. A ‘Y’ peeler makes peeling a snap and a good sharp knife is a must! (I use a Wusthof 8″ chef’s knife)
How to Cook The Scallops:
Scallops are usually frozen right on the boat after they are caught, so even if you buy them fresh from the store they were frozen at one time. Whether you buy them thawed or thaw them yourself you’ need to use a paper towel to dab any extra moisture and then lightly season with sea salt and pepper.
The key to a perfectly caramelized scallop is high heat and searing. Scallops are so small and delicate they cook in 3-4minutes flat. The biggest mistake people make when cooking scallops is over-cooking. Don’t do it! You’ll be tempted to leave them on longer, resist! A minute and half to two minutes a side should not only cook them through but result in a beautiful seared exterior and tender interior. Yum!
The Recipe: Seared Scallops with Butternut Squash Puree
This is a beautiful meal that doesn’t take very much time, and the butternut puree is a healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. If you prefer less work and a lighter meal, these scallops are perfect served over basmati rice. Because scallops take only 4 minutes to cook, the temptation is to overcook them, don’t! When overcooked ,scallops are rubbery. When cooked correctly, they are tender and heavenly.
- 1 butternut squash about 2 lbs, peeled and cut into cubes (when cut into cubes, squash should fill entire rimmed cookie sheet)
- 6 -8 Sage leaves
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 4-5 whole cloves garlic peeled
- 16 large scallops thawed, lightly salted and peppered
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly minced sage
- 1 small shallot minced
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place rack in upper third of oven. Place a sheet of parchment paper on rimmed cookie sheet and set aside
Peel and cut squash into ½ inch cubes, place on a rimmed cookie sheet covered with parchment paper, drizzle lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, add whole garlic cloves and toss
Place butternut squash in the oven and set timer for 30 minutes
When timer goes off, toss 6-8 whole sage leaves onto the butternut baking sheet and cook for 10-15 more minutes (till squash soft and just starting to brown and sage is crispy).
Remove from oven and put all ingredients into a food processor and process till squash is the consistency of mashed potatoes. Cover to keep warm.
Pat scallops dry with paper towel, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
Heat a non stick nonstick pan on medium/high heat for three minutes
While waiting for pan to heat, spoon butternut puree onto four plates
Carefully add olive oil to hot pan, add scallops and sear without moving them for 2-3 minutes (till golden) then turn them over.
Cook for about 90 seconds more, remove from heat and nuzzle them atop your pureed squash to keep them warm while preparing butter sauce.
Immediately add butter and shallots to pan and saute for about a minute, add sage leaves and cook for one more minute. Stir in fresh lemon juice. Spoon butter mixture over scallops and serve.
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