Roasted Acorn Squash Purée with Seared Scallops

| January 24, 2010 | 2 Comments

Going shopping for dinner without a set plan can be a dangerous thing — at least for some people. For me, it reminds me of shopping the open-air markets in Bangkok as a child. My mom and I would roam the market to see what was fresh and then decide on the spot what to buy and prepare for dinner.

When we lived in Baltimore, I loved to browse the fish market at Fell’s Point to see what was fresh.

When it’s my turn to cook the family dinner, I’ll often go to our local market with a loose idea of what I’m going to make—salad, entree, and whether or not I’m going to cook dessert or opt for fresh fruit—and make the final decisions based on what I see that’s fresh. I know it’s not the most economical or efficient way to plan a family dinner, but I usually end up with the dinner-cooking chores on my days off and enjoy just going to the market and seeing what speaks to me.

During the wintertime, the things that usually speak to me are root vegetables like parsnips and potatoes, apples and pork, perfect for hearty stews; Brussels sprouts, perfect for oven-roasting or pan-frying; shellfish or salmon glistening in the seafood case; and acorn squash.

Acorn squash is one of those vegetables that was foreign to me until my partner, Charles, introduced me to it, roasted in the oven with some butter and maple syrup. I love the nutty flavor of the squash, and the maple syrup and butter just make it sublime.

On this day at the market, the scallops also looked plump and were calling to me from the fish case, so I went home with ingredients for a salad, two acorn squash and a handful of sea scallops.

I decided that I would oven-roast the acorn squash and then turn it into a purée and top it off with pan-seared scallops.  It turned out deliciously. The purée was sweet and nutty, and the scallops offerred a nice salty, yet sweet, contrast.

Seared scallops top off this wonderfully hearty roasted acorn squash purée

Roasted Acorn Squash Purée with Seared Scallops

  1. 2 acorn squash
  2. 2 cups (480 ml.) heavy cream
  3. 2 cups (480 ml.) milk
  4. 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) honey
  5. Approximately 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) butter
  6. 4 or 8 sea scallops (1 or 2 per individual serving)
  7. 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) garlic seasoning
  8. Nutmeg and salt, to taste
  9. 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) olive oil
  10. 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml.) canola oil

*NOTE: This recipe makes 4 servings.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Marinate sea scallops with the garlic seasoning and olive oil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cut acorn squash in half, length-wise, scoop out the seeds and fibrous center and discard, and set the halves in a baking dish or pan with the cut side up.
  • In the hollowed-out centers of each half, put in about half a tablespoon (8 ml.) of butter and then half a tablespoon (8 ml.) of honey. Use a brush to evenly coat the hollowed-out centers with the mixture.
  • Bake for about 45 minutes and test with a fork to see if they’re done. You should be able to easily push the fork into the flesh. If it’s still hard, bake for another 15-20 minutes and test again. Set the squash aside to cool when done.
  • When the squash have cooled, scoop out the flesh into a medium-sized mixing bowl.  Using a potato masher, mash the flesh of the squash until it has a smooth consistency.
  • Take the marinating scallops out of the refrigerator so that they will reach room temperature by the time you will need to cook them.
  • Empty the mashed squash into a saucepan. Over low heat, add cream and milk and wisk until it begins to bubble. Season with a pinch of salt and ground nutmeg to taste. If the purée is too thick, add a little more milk. The purée should have the consistency of a very thick soup, like cream of potato or clam chowder. Hold the purée warm by lowering the flame to the lowest setting.
  • In a skillet, heat the canola oil over high heat.
  • Add the scallops, taking care not to crowd the pan, and cook for a few minutes on each side until they are seared golden brown. Do not overcook or the scallops will get tough.
  • Assemble the dish by ladling the purée into bowls or deep dishes and topping it with a scallop or two for each serving.
  • You can sprinkle some additional nutmeg on the top of each assembled serving for presentation.


— Vic

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Category: Seafood

About the Author (Author Profile)

Victor Panichkul is a journalist and writer by training; a cook, wine lover and photographer by passion; and a lover of the outdoors since moving to Oregon more than 10 years ago. He is a native of Bangkok, Thailand.

Comments (2)

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  1. Rachel says:

    Sounds delicious. We were just talking about scallops last night, because they seem to have fallen out of our repertoire. This is the perfect excuse to rotate them back in!

  2. VPanichkul says:

    Thanks for commenting, Rachel. It was very tasty and very easy to make. Make sure you plan a light salad with the dish because it’s quite rich. Let us know how it turns out!

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