Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Seared scallops with spiced butternut squash puree

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Andrew and I don't exchange Christmas presents. Instead, we treat ourselves to a nice dinner at a restaurant that is a bit fancier than the ones we normally go to, and enjoy an evening out together. The first year that we were dating, we had a three-course meal at Rendezvous, the highlight of which was an amazing appetizer of seared scallops with Moroccan spices. This year, we had the five-course tasting menu at Journeyman, which included some of the most creative and inventive dishes I have ever had. To give you an example, one of the plates included rye bread ice cream. And it was good! Several of the courses at Journeyman also included vegetable purees, which had amazing complexity and depth of flavor. I was impressed - I didn't know something as seemingly boring as parsnip puree, for example, could be so delicious!

Anyway, after I bought some gorgeous sea scallops at the Somerville Winter Market, I decided to combine some favorite elements of our past holidy dinners into this dish. I spiced up a simple butternut squash puree with ras al hanout (a Moroccan spice blend) and served it with seared scallops. The combination was delicious - spicy and sweet, with a good mix of textures. And since I already had the cooked squash in the fridge, this dish came together in less than 10 minutes! It's so nice to know that we can capture the essence of some of our favorite restaurant meals right at home anytime we want.

What are the most memorable restaurant meals you've had?

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Seared scallops with spiced butternut squash puree
Makes 3 servings

1 1/2 cups pureed butternut squash*
1 tsp ras al hanout (Moroccan spice blend)
9 large sea scallops (about 3/4 lb.)
1 tbs butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, stir ras al hanout into squash puree until well blended. Heat puree over medium heat until warm, and add salt to taste. While squash is warming, pat scallops dry with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place a large, heavy skillet (cast iron is best) over moderately high heat. When skillet is hot, add butter. When butter is melted and foam subsides, add scallops to pan. Sear scallops for 2 minutes per side, or until they are just cooked through with a golden brown crust. Divide squash puree into three portions, and top each with three scallops. Serve immediately.

*You can cook the squash however you want (for example, bake the squash whole until it is tender, then halve it, remove the seeds, and scoop out the flesh), and then puree the flesh in a food processor.

5 comments:

  1. I LOVE scallops - this meal looks delicious. I love special dinners like that when you really treat yourself. We do that for our anniversary each year.

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  2. Mmm, your scallops look perfectly cooked! I love it when restaurant meals inspire a yummy meal at home :)

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  3. Gorgeous plating! I ate at Rendezvous this past spring and really enjoyed it.

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  4. I love your gift giving tradition! That's what I'm going to inform my future husband/boyfriend that I want. I'm all about activity gifts rather than material gifts. :)

    Mmm that puree with the scallops sounds fabulous! A great combination.

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  5. Scallops make the dish tasty. Try other meals at hampton beach restaurants as well.

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