We never plan very far ahead when it comes to holiday meals, so it’s kind of funny that we’re here writing about preparing for Christmas. There is this particular dish that we like to make for dinner for the festive season. When the months turn cooler, we start craving heartier foods, but with this dish, you get a feel of the end of summer and the beginning of fall all in one which is – Seared scallops with quinoa, apple salad and pumpkin puree. It’s a great combination with the perfect lightness plus hearty feels all around! This is a meal that is seriously impressive in both taste and appearance and has the added bonus of being surprisingly simple.
This dish has a total of 3 sections to be made; searing of scallops, pumpkin puree and apple salad in order to make this dish a whole. However, we promise that every section of this dish is simple and quick to make.
Easy Pumpkin Puree from Scratch
The recipe requires only two ingredients and that’s counting salt, which is technically optional! You are looking at 45 to 60 minutes of roasting time, but that’s really not too bad especially since it makes your home smell amazing. You can make pumpkin puree in advance, too. It will keep for a week in the refrigerator and for months in the freezer. (Some find that the texture changes over time when frozen, but we haven’t had any issues with that yet. I’ll keep you updated, though.)
How to make Pumpkin Puree?
- You want to use small baking pumpkins when making pumpkin puree. When you’re home give the pumpkin a good rinse then get to cutting it in half.
- Many of the recipie scoop out the pumpkin seeds, but like to keep them on. Then lightly season with salt.
- Place the halves cut-side-down onto a baking sheet and roast until the flesh is soft and coming away from the skin.
- Once the pumpkin is roasted, throw the softened flesh into a food processor and blend until smooth. Easy! (Add tablespoon of milk in if the texture of the puree is not smooth)
Apple Quinoa Salad
Angela is never a fan of eating an apple, however, this Apple Quinoa Salad changes her mind about apples. This is a very simple crunchy salad that adds a crispy texture to the pumpkin puree and scallops. All you need is 4 ingredients where it is a staple in our kitchen; quinoa, apples, parsley and lemon juice. You will need to incorporate the chop and cooked ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix it well, waiting for it to be served.
In a previous post at Roasted Eggplant Miso Salad, we have mentioned that cooking quinoa has been a challenging task for us. Click on the post to read more about how we overcome the challenge and cook the perfect quinoa.
Lead of the dish – Seared Scallops
Watching Masterchef there are always some contestants failed cooking their scallops, it makes us wonder if it is that hard? You don’t need many ingredients, all you need is scallops, salt and pepper and butter. Yes, it is hard we overcooked and undercooked some of them before we perfect it here for you.
Start by choosing your scallops
Let choosing your meat you will want your scallop dry instead of wet. Those scallops that look wet and glossy have a layer of phosphate solution, this scallop gives off flavour, and they’re usually not as fresh. We got ours in our local supermarket Cold Storage, places like Mediya Supermarket have fresh seafood too.
The first thing you want to do when you’re searing anything is to pat the outside dry with a paper towel, we do this to our steak. Next, sprinkle the scallops with sea salt and black pepper.
Next grab a skillet, preferably cast-iron. Cast iron pans are my favourite for searing because they retain heat so well and preheat nicely. Heat up the skillet until it’s really hot, and add some high smoke point oil. Drop-in your scallops, and make sure to give them enough space in the pan so they’re not steaming each other. This is when we season the other side with salt and pepper. Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on the first side, then add a small pat of butter to the pan while the other side finishes cooking, to flavour the scallops.
Once the scallops are done cooking, serve immediately, and make sure to transfer them to another dish for serving. The cast iron retains heat and will continue cooking the scallops unless you take them out.
Combining all the elements together
Now that you have all your elements, it is time to plate them up. We use a scallops shaped plate for this dish, isn’t it cool? First layer your pumpkin puree, you can smear a thin layer onto the plate, however, the puree is so delicious that we like them thick on ours. Then layer it with the salad and top it with our main lead the scallops, drizzle it with the leftover butter from the searing of scallops. Tada, now you have this perfect Christmas main dish for your holiday party.
Scallops with Pumpkin Puree
- For the butternut squash puree
1 butternut pumpkin (about 1kg)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
- For the quinoa salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
- For the seared scallops
1 kg scallops
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 190C. Line a baking pan with aluminium foil.
- Trim both ends of the butternut pumpkin and cut it in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Drizzle olive oil over the cut side of both halves and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over them. Place the halves cut-side down on the baking tray and cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until a sharp knife easily pierces the flesh.
- While the butternut pumpkin is cooking, prepare the quinoa. Place the quinoa and 3 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until all the water has been absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from heat, open the lid, and let cool.
- Transfer the flesh of the butternut pumpkin to a blender (or you can put it in a bowl and use a stick blender), along with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon butter, and 1 teaspoon salt. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the quinoa into a bowl, along with chopped apple and parsley.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over quinoa salad and toss to combine.
- Pat dry the scallops with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on high heat. Once it begins to smoke, add the scallops and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until they have browned on one side. Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops.
- To plate, start by spooning 3 tablespoons of butternut squash puree onto the plate (or shallow bowl). Top with a couple of spoonfuls of quinoa salad, followed by the seared scallops. Spoon some of the remaining melted butter from the pan on top of the scallops.