Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

A simple bay scallop gratin recipe with prosciutto, fennel, shallots, lemon, fresh herbs and bread crumbs adapted from Ina Garten.

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Scallops are a weekend-only meal for us. I like to think of them as too special for weeknights. When I see fresh-looking ones from the U.S. (not Mexico or Asia) at the fish counter, and the price isn’t too crazy, scallops end up on our menu. I grew up eating a lot of scallops. New Bedford, the scallop capital, is just down the road from my hometown. I still love them so I’ve featured scallop dishes here before.

You can’t go wrong with an Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) recipe. This is an easy dish to whip up. Just try to remember to take the butter out to soften before you get started. If you don’t, and I haven’t many a time, you can prep other things while you wait.

I’ve adapted her recipe to use the ingredients I have on hand. If I have fennel, I add it to the sautéed shallot and garlic, and skip the tarragon later — or vice versa. I use whatever herbs I have around – could be parsley, basil or even basil pesto. Because I’m adding sautéed shallots and garlic to the butter mixture, I don’t usually add additional olive oil unless I think the mixture needs some loosening up to spread evenly. I also don’t weigh the prosciutto; I use two to four pieces, or more if I feel like it.

The sides are up to you of course. When I made this last week, I served roasted carrots and butternut squash with thyme and garlic, alongside some simple sautéed (with garlic) spinach. Yes, it was a garlic-heavy evening — that happens a lot around here.

This dish would make a good Christmas Eve dinner. Even though I’m not Italian (except in the kitchen), I love seafood on Christmas Eve. Of course, one seafood dish isn’t enough. A small portion of these scallops as one of the starter courses followed up by a pasta dish (maybe shrimp al diavolo) and a shrimp and/or crab stuffed salmon or flounder, mmm, getting ideas here!

Bay Scallop Gratin with Prosciutto recipe from Grabbing the Gusto

Bay Scallop Gratin with Prosciutto | Grabbing the Gusto

Bay Scallop Gratin with Prosciutto

You’ll need a small sauté pan, medium bowl and a baking dish large enough to hold the scallops in a single (or close to single, no need to be that fussy) layer.

  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ounce (or more) sliced prosciutto, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, basil or pesto, plus extra minced herbs for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon or minced fennel bulb
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine/dry vermouth
  • 1 pound fresh bay scallops
  • Lemon

First, if you haven’t already softened your butter, take it out of the refrigerator, cut it in pieces and get it softening. You can sauté the shallot and garlic while you’re waiting. You can also prep the scallops while you’re waiting too – see below.

Preheat the oven to 425. Sauté shallot (and fennel, if using) in olive oil for a few minutes until softened. Add garlic for a minute. Remove from heat.

To make the topping, you can use a mixer or do it by hand. Mix the softened butter with the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley/basil/pesto, lemon juice, tarragon/fennel, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. You can let this sit for a while to meld the flavors. Whisk or beat in the olive oil until combined. Fold in the panko and set aside.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven. Place wine/vermouth in the bottom of the baking dish. With a small sharp knife, remove the white muscle from the side of each scallop and discard. If you don’t do this, the dish will probably not suffer. But if you have the time, why not – I like having these little bits for our compost pile. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and spread in the bottom of the dish. Spread the garlic butter mixture evenly over the top of the scallops.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want a crustier top, place the dish under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned to your liking. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley (or basil) and serve immediately. Ina likes serving it with crusty French bread.

Original recipe: Bay Scallop Gratin, Ina Garten, Food Network 

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