Scallops with Pumpkin and Herb Orzo

Adapted from Fine Cooking (Oct/Nov 2010)

I found myself muttering words inappropriate for young ears as I worked at peeling and chopping 3 cups of fresh pumpkin. I had forgotten what hard work that is! I thought I’d made a huge mistake…until I tasted the result. Well worth the fuss indeed. If you are going to go to the trouble of hacking up a fresh pumpkin, let this be the reason.

  • Orzo:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and 1/2 inch diced
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz. orzo
  • 1 tablespoon flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (or 1 teaspoon fresh)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Scallops:
  • 1 lb. large sea scallops
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup half-and-half (see tips)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook orzo according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots and pumpkin and cook until nearly tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and add cooked orzo, reserved water, marjoram and parsley. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  • In another skillet, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Cook the scallops just so they turn brown on one side, then flip them (about 2 minutes per side). They should not be fully cooked yet. Remove them from the skillet and set aside on a plate, letting any liquid accumulate there. Meanwhile, add the shallots, garlic and white wine to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Scrape the browned bits from the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the half-and-half and marjoram and allow to cook another minute until slightly thickened. Add the scallops and their accumulated juices back to the pan and cook for just one more minute. Remove from heat.
  • To serve, place orzo mixture on a plate and top with the scallops and sauce. Garnish with parsley.
  • Quick Tips
  • 1. The original recipe calls for cream. I couldn’t bear to add cream to this otherwise healthy dish. I thought half-and-half was a decent second choice. Next time, I might even try whole milk just for grins.
  • 2. The original recipe also calls for toasted, salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) sprinkled on top. Since I cut up the pumpkin just before I made this and didn’t have any roasted pepitas on hand, I skipped this step. Add them if you have them to finish off the dish with a second element of pumpkin glory.
  • 3. If the flavor of marjoram isn’t your cup of tea, try thyme instead. You can use fresh or dried.

Preparation time: 30 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 4

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