This Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin is a lighter, seasonal take on the classic Coquilles St. Jacques, and is made with sea scallops cooked in a creamy pumpkin sauce.
Do you have a favorite restaurant? I probably have about ten favorites (I can’t choose!), but my favorite “fancy date night” restaurant is a little French place downtown. It’s where the husband proposed, and it’s where we’ve gone each year (so far) for our anniversary. And that is where I first tasted the French dish Coquilles St. Jacques.
Have you tried Coquilles St. Jacques? It’s a rich, buttery and creamy scallops dish. Sometimes you’ll find it baked, sometimes broiled, but it is ALWAYS decadent. In fact, it’s so buttery and creamy, that it might– just possibly– be a little too decadent. (Is that possible? My waistline tells me that yes, yes it is.)
This autumn take on the rich and creamy dish is healthier and lightened up, with nutrient-rich pumpkin and no cream. Don’t worry though– your taste buds won’t know there’s no cream, because the PUMPKIN THICKENS THE MILK! This Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin still feels decadent, and puts the spotlight on the sea scallops and pumpkin sauce.
Buying High Quality Scallops
For this gratin to be as luscious as possible– use sea scallops and not bay scallops. (Bay scallops are the tiny scallops– you want the big ones instead.) The sea scallops will give this dish a silky texture that will contrast nicely with the crunchy top and the smooth, creamy sauce.
When you’re shopping for sea scallops, make sure to check the label. They should be marked “additive-free,” “chemical-free,” or “dry-packed,” and if they aren’t, they’re probably “wet-packed.“ If they’re “wet-packed,” they’ve been soaked in a phosphate bath to plump them up and make them bigger. What does that mean for you? For one thing, it affects the taste.* Since scallops are sold by weight, it also means that you’re paying more per scallop– for water.
Depending on where you live, you might have a really hard time finding “dry-packed” scallops in your local grocery store. (I’ve been looking, and I’ve never found them near where I live in Central Appalachia.) Instead, I order them online from my favorite seafood supplier– Orca Bay. Their All Natural Scallops are free from additives, sustainably sourced, and (seriously) taste better than any other scallops I’ve ever eaten.
Order Orca Bay Online: Use my Ambassador Code: champagnetastes for 15% off!
Find Orca Bay locally: Use their store finder, or try these vendors: Costco, Ingles, Giant Eagle, Market of Choice, Whole Foods (Northwest Region), HyVee, Dierberg’s, Woodman’s, Acme Fresh, Hen House, Price Cutter, Harp’s, Price Chopper- Kansas City. (Note: if you don’t have one of these stores in your local area, but do have a health food store, check there! That’s where I find my Orca Bay fish.)
Making Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin
To make Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin, start by patting your sea scallops dry and then tossing them in a little salt. Set them in the fridge until you’re ready for them.
Next, sauté a sliced shallot in butter, and then brown a few sliced button mushrooms in the same pan. Divide the shallot and mushroom slices between two ramekins. (Don’t have ramekins? You can also use a shallow casserole dish.) Add a little more butter to the same pan, let it melt, and then add some milk. Whisk and combine the two, and then whisk pumpkin into the mixture. Season to taste with salt, cayenne, and nutmeg.
Pull the scallops out of the fridge, and divide them among the ramekins. Pour the sauce in the ramekins, covering the sides (but not the tops) of the scallops. Top everything with a little freshly ground parmesan,** and broil until the tops are golden brown. Serve this healthy Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin with some crusty bread to soak up the sauce, and something light and fresh like a green salad.
Do you have a favorite scallops recipe? Let me know in the comments!
*A Note on Using Wet-Packed Scallops: Do you have a package of wet-packed scallops already in your fridge or freezer? Try soaking them in an ice water bath with the juice from one lemon for 30 minutes. The lemon-water bath will help get rid of the soapy taste.
Pumpkin Broiled Scallop Gratin
Recipe easily doubles or triples, and can also be made in a shallow baking dish instead of ramekins, without altering the cook time. This gratin is rich and creamy, and pairs well with something lighter such as a green salad.
- 6 oz sea scallops (3-5 per person, depending on the size of scallops) Orca Bay scallops recommended
- 2 tsp salt, divided
- 2 TB butter, divided
- 1 shallot, or sub 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 button mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup pumpkin purée
- 1/2 tsp ground cayenne
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- (Optional): 2-3 fresh chives, diced, to garnish
- (Optional) Serve with: crusty bread, a green salad
Pat scallops dry and toss with about half the salt. Set scallops in the refrigerator until you're ready to use them.
In a large stainless steel pan, heat 1 TB butter over medium heat. When the butter is melted, but before it begins to brown, add the sliced shallot. Sauté 2-3 minutes, or until the shallots begin to brown.
Push shallots to the edge of the pan (or remove shallots and reserve them), and add sliced mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms until they're browned, about 4 minutes.
Remove mushrooms and shallots, and divide between two ramekins. Set aside.
Add remaining 1 TB butter to the pan, and lower heat to medium low. Whisk in milk, and then whisk in the pumpkin. Continue to whisk or stir until the sauce is smooth and creamy (about 1 minute).
Season the sauce to taste with salt, cayenne, and nutmeg. (Make sure to actually taste the sauce-- if it tastes bland, add a little more salt. If you want it a little spicier, add more cayenne or nutmeg.) Remove the sauce from the heat.
Move an oven rack to the top of your oven, and turn on the broiler.
Set scallops in the ramekins, on top of the mushroom and shallot mixture. Pour the pumpkin sauce into the ramekins, covering the SIDES of the scallops, but not the tops.
Divide the Parmesan on top of both ramekins. Set ramekins on a baking sheet, and then slide it onto the top oven rack under the hot broiler.
Broil the scallops for 5-7 minutes until the cheese has turned golden and is bubbling. (Watch the scallops carefully after about 5 minutes-- you want them golden, not burnt.)
Allow the ramekins to cool slightly, top with fresh chives (if desired) and serve your broiled scallop gratin while it's still hot.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal, and does not include optional bread or salad.