We’re in the thick of the holiday season and I couldn’t be more pumped to be around all of the holiday decor, pretty twinkly lights and Christmas trees everywhere—I love the holidays! I also obviously love holiday foods like cookies and cheesy appetizers and gingerbread everything. I’ve been sharing my fair share of sweet treats so I wanted to break the typical programming with something super savory and delicious. This Seared Scallops with Cheesy Acorn Squash Mash is just the thing to whip up for a special holiday dinner. Or just a regular weeknight meal since it’s not too difficult at all!
(This post is sponsored by ALDI. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that keep A Cozy Kitchen cozy.)
For this post, I teamed up with ALDI, which is always my go-to place for affordable, delicious foods during the holidays. These wild scallops were priced at such a deal at less than $10 and they tasted so fresh—just like the sea.
I gave them a good sear in a bit of avocado oil—I love the ALDI Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil! I also was sure to pick up walnuts, various cheeses (I ate most of them at Thanksgiving) like Raclette, this Aged Cheddar, Truffle Cheddar and the most delicious Manchego Cheese.
I also purchased some delicious acorn squashes and a sweet potato. I figured it’d be a good idea to decide to roast them so the scallops had a bed of delicious, cheesy squash puree to nestle on. It was a good move!
Let’s talk about the scallops!
How to Sear Scallops
I’ve always loved scallops but they took me a good amount of time to learn how to cook perfectly. I used to think that you could only get a good, golden brown sear on scallops that had never been previously frozen. But I learned that’s not necessarily the case. Here’s how I sear scallops:
- Use a neutral oil. I like using avocado oil because it has a super high smoke point and is neutral in flavor. Avocado oil is also amazing to bake with. I LOVE the Avocado Oil from ALDI because it’s super affordable and amazing to use.
- Dry the scallops. I always lay the scallops on a bed of paper towels or clean kitchen towel for about 10 minutes before cooking them. This helps dry them out a bit and then I always am sure to pat them dry very thoroughly.
- Hot oil. I always heat my neutral oil over a medium-high heat. This helps ensure a nice crust on the scallops.
- Sear. When the scallops are nice and dry and the oil is nice and hot, I add the scallops to the oil and allow them to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Don’t move them! I never move the scallops until the edges begin to lift off the pan. That’s when I know it’s time to flip them. Using a fish spatula, I turn it over and lift it off (if a bit of the scallop gets stuck this is the best way to get it off the pan without losing the crust) and flip it.
I paired this scallop dish with Giretto Pinot Grigio that I picked up at ALDI via Instacart! ALDI now delivers wine (and beer) directly to your door via Instacart.
Just a heads up, you can use code ALDIHOLIDAY2019 to get free delivery on orders of $35+ for first-time customers through 12/31/19. YAY!
If you make this Seared Scallops with Cheesy Acorn Squash Mash, let me know on Instagram!
Seared Scallops with Cheesy Acorn Squash Mash
- 2 acorn squashes, , halved
- 1 sweet potato
- Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil
- Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup grated Emporium Selection Premium Aged Cheddar
Brown Butter Walnuts:
- 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Juice from 1/4 lemon
- 2 chives, trimmed and minced
- Kosher salt
- Pinch of crushed red pepper
- 3 tablespoons Simply Nature 100% Pure Avocado Oil
- 6 ounces frozen Specially Selected Jumbo Scallops, thawed
To Cook the Squash:
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place acorn squashes on your baking sheet. Drizzle with a bit of oil and a few pinches of salt. Place face side down. Transfer to the oven to roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender.
- Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they’re cool enough to handle. Scoop the squash and add it to a food processor. Remove the skin from the sweet potato and add the sweet potato to the food processor, along with the butter, garlic, cheddar and a few pinches of salt. Process until mostly smooth (some texture is good!). Give it a taste and adjust the salt according to taste.
To Make the Brown Butter Walnuts:
- In a small pan, set over medium heat, add the walnuts and butter. Toast them until they’re fragrant and slightly darker in color, about 2 minutes, until the butter is fragrant and turning a brown color. Mix in the lemon juice, chives, a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
To Cook the Scallops:
- In a skillet, set over medium high heat, add the avocado oil. When the oil is hot and glistening and glides along the pan smoothly, you know it’s hot enough. Add the scallops and don’t move them until they begin to lift off the pan, about 2 minutes. Flip the scallops and cook on their opposite side for 1 minute.
- Add the squash to a platter and make a few swoops if you like. You know, make it pretty! Top it with the scallops and spoon the brown butter walnuts on top. Serve immediately.