Holiday dinners are always hectic, and at least for myself, the kitchen is the last place where I want to spend all of my time. That’s why I frequently turn to dishes like this pan seared scallops with parsnip puree. The sweetness from the parsnips, the nuttiness from the scallops, the sweet acidity from the balsamic vinegar— this dish is perfectly balanced, impressive, and simple to make. Most of the steps could be done a day in advance, save for searing the scallops right before dinner time.
12 sea scallops, pat dry (be sure to remove the membrane)
4 medium parsnips
3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cup of chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Set aside the half of one parsnip for the garnish. Peel the rest and cut into cubes. In a soup pot or a heavy saucepan, add the parsnip cubes and cover with the chicken broth and the heavy whipping cream. Bring the liquid to a boil, and simmer the mixture for about 10-15 minutes or until the parsnip are very tender. Using a blender or an immersion blender, purée the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Keep the purée warm or reserve in the fridge if using the next day.
In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar with the granulated sugar and bring to a boil on high heat before lowering to simmer until you get a syrup consistency. To keep the balsamic from burning, whisk constantly.
Cut the half of the parsnip in thin “julienne” (matchsticks). In a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of butter, quickly stir-fry them. Reserve on a paper towel.
To sear the scallops, put 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 teaspoon of butter in a sauté pan on a burner set to high heat. When the pan is very hot, sear them in one layer. Do not overcrowd the pan, and do not move them until one side is brown and crisp (about 2 minutes each side). To get the best sear, use one side of the pan for the first sear and then use the other side of the pan for the second sear.
When it’s time to plate the dish, brush the bottom of a dinner plate or big bowl with the balsamic reduction. Add 2 big tablespoons of parsnip purée, and top with three scallops. Garnish with the parsnip julienne. Serve immediately.
Adeline’s tip: Save any leftover balsamic vinegar reduction for a vinaigrette on a salad.
Makes four servings