This recipe originated with one I used to serve in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when I was the executive chef at Le Cirque in New York City. I would cut sea scallops into thin slices that I would overlap in the shape of a rosette, which was then served over fresh pasta with a spicy tomato sauce. For this autumnal version, I've replaced the pasta with one of my favorite fall vegetables, spaghetti squash, and added seasonal ingredients such as dried cranberries, chicory, and pumpkin seeds. The result is an original, elegant, dinner party–worthy entrée that is both healthful and bound to impress.
Despite its fancy appearance, the dish is easy to prepare. The trick is to create the rosette shape in advance, overlapping the raw scallop slices until you have a full circle. When lightly baked, the scallops stick together, forming a disc. This time of year, I use North Atlantic sea scallops, but come December, I use diver scallops. That super-sweet variety, which is in season for only a few months, is hand harvested; my favorites come from Maine. The dish is delicious either way. Add a glass of Riesling, and you'll understand why it was a favorite of the ladies who lunched at Le Cirque.
WHAT TO DRINK
Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel Boulud's restaurants, recommends pairing this sophisticated seafood dish with a full-bodied Riesling from Germany's Mosel Valley, such as Weiser-Künstler Enkircher Steffensberg Spätlese 2011 ($30). "Its sweetness is balanced with a dose of acidity, so it can stand up to the powerful flavors of cranberries and Champagne vinegar," he says. As an alternative, he suggests Selbach Incline Riesling 2012 ($12), which he says is "always reliable and affordable."
A ring of scallops makes a showstopping entrée. The plate is by Hering Berlin, the flatware is by Alain Saint-Joanis, the placemat is by Sferra, and the tablecloth is by de Le Cuona.
SCALLOP ROSETTES WITH SPAGHETTI SQUASH
4 oz. dried cranberries
¾ cup Champagne vinegar
⅛ tsp. salt, more as needed
1 spaghetti squash
5 T olive oil, more for dressing
8 large sea scallops, each cut crosswise into 5 slices
2 T butter
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
1 bunch chicory, trimmed, torn into bite-size pieces, and rinsed
Freshly ground white pepper
Place the cranberries in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine the Champagne vinegar with ⅛ tsp. salt and ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and pour over the cranberries. Cover and steep for at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Slice the squash in half lengthwise, drizzle the cut sides with 1 T olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer, cut side down, to a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake just until the flesh is tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Let cool, scrape the flesh into a bowl, and set aside.
Meanwhile, cut out four 6" squares of parchment and, using a 5"-diameter bowl or ring mold, trace a circle in the center of each square. Flip over and lightly brush with olive oil (use about 1 T total). Arrange 10 scallop slices inside each traced circle on the oiled side, overlapping them by about ¼" to form a rosette. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with 1 T olive oil, and then transfer the parchment squares to a baking sheet.
Brown the butter in a small sauté pan. Add the pumpkin seeds and cranberries and their juice, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half. Set aside to use as sauce.
In a medium sauté pan, heat 2 T olive oil over high heat. Add half the chicory, season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss until wilted. Add the squash to the pan, toss to heat through, and adjust the seasoning as desired.
Transfer the scallops to the oven and bake just until white and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
Divide the squash mixture among four plates, and slide a scallop rosette off the parchment onto each one. In a small bowl, toss the remaining chicory with olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, and place on top of the scallops.
Drizzle cranberry sauce over each plate, and serve immediately.