This a great appetizer for a dinner party, because it is delicious, looks great, and is quite easy to prepare. Only a few ingredients are needed to make a fantastic dish. Scallops and bacon are friends, so bacon-wrapped scallops are a classic. The trick is to cook them such that the bacon is slightly crispy without overcooking the scallop. This is achieved by precooking the bacon. Together they work well with pumpkin because both pumpkin and scallops are sweet. To add some crunch, breadcrumbs flavored with anchovies, garlic, and rosemary are added. Those flavors work well with both pumpkin and scallops.
For each serving
1 slice thin-cut smoked bacon
2 Tbsp clarified butter
minced fresh sage
1 garlic clove
4 Tbsp coarse dried breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp minced rosemary
1 anchovy fillet
1 clove garlic
salt and cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
Start by making the pumpkin puree. Cut a pumpkin in half and bake it for an hour at 190C/375F on a baking sheet with some water.
Check whether the pumpkin is tender with a fork. If it is, scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
Remove the pumpkin flesh from the skin with a spoon, and put it in a blender.
Blend until smooth.
Put the pumpkin puree in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
Cook over medium heat, stirring all the time, until the pumpkin puree has thickened.
To make the breadcrumbs, mince an anchovy fillet, a garlic clove, and a tablespoon of rosemary.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add 4 Tbsp of coarse dried breadcrumbs, and the garlic, anchovy, and rosemary. Stir until the breadcrumbs are golden and crunchy.
Allow the breadcrumbs to cool, spread out on a paper towel.
Put the sliced bacon in a frying pan over medium heat.
Cook on both sides until the bacon is golden but still flexible. Reserve the pan with the bacon drippings.
Drain the precooked bacon on paper towels and sprinkle with minced sage (I used 1/2 tablespoon for 5 slices).
Wrap each scallop with a slice of bacon (sage inside) and secure with a toothpick.
Up to this point, the dish can be prepared in advance. Refrigerate everything until it is time to continue.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Put a ring mould on an oven-proof plate and fill it with a layer of pumpkin puree.
Cover with a layer of breadcrumbs. Remove the ring mould. Repeat with all the plates. Then bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes at 180C/350F or until heated through.
In the meantime, add two tablespoons of clarified butter to the frying pan with the bacon drippings.
Cook a sliced clove of garlic in the butter until golden, then discard the garlic. Do not allow the garlic to brown, as that would make it bitter.
Increase the heat to high. When the butter is very hot, add the bacon-wrapped scallops.
Cook them for a couple of minutes on both sides until nicely seared. Do not overcook the scallops, they should remain juicy inside.
Serve the bacon-wrapped scallops on top of the pumpkin and breadcrumbs.
Fish soup is prepared all along the Mediterranean coast. There are many varieties such as bouillabaisse from France and zarzuela from Spain. Cacciccuo alla Livornese is a fish soup from the Tuscan coast that has three distinguishing features: it is made with (and accompanied by) local red wine, it is made with tomatoes, and it is served on top of toasted bread. Fish is usually served with white wine, but in this case a young Chianti Classico is both a vital ingredient and a great wine pairing. This fish soup has amazing depth of flavor, and would indeed overpower a white wine. If you like bold flavors and seafood, you will love this soup!