Scallops with Parsnips and Honey-Sage Sauce

Winter is coming. And one of my favorite winter veggies is parsnips. Parsnips comes from that line known as root vegetables, i.e turnips, rutabaga, beets, radishes, etc. For some reason or another, in my group, no one likes parsnips (or turnips, for that matter). And I can't understand why. Properly prepared, they can be heavenly. As in the dish given bellow. I happen to be a fan of scallops, be it sea scallops or bay scallops. And this dish combines scallops with parsnips (puréed), in what is called a honey-sage sauce, or in French, a honey sage jus. I know, the thing sounds highfalutin, but it ain't.

One last note: this dish goes great with chenin blanc, one of my favorite wines. It combines a hint of sweetness that matches well with this entrée. What I like about chenin blanc is that you can smell the flavor of the grapes; it's like a whisper of tropical fruit that makes a wonderful pairing. So, wanna impress your dinner companions? Lie, and tell them you slaved over a hot stove whipping up this classic, and serve with the wine. Make it sound impressive: jus (like jooze---puckering up your lips like some maītre'd at some fancy restaurant).


1 pound parsnips
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 to 16 scallops, about 1 1/4 pounds, tough tendon removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced shallots
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 sage leaves, washed and julienned (cut into thin strips)

1. Wash parsnips under cold running water, place in a pan with water to cover and boil until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Drain, peel, cut into chunks, and purée in a  blender or food processor.
2. Place in a small dish or saucepan, season with salt and pepper. Stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil. Cover and keep warm.
3. Rinse scallops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet until very hot. Add scallops and sear on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn over (they should be golden-brown), and lower heat.
4. Add butter to pan in bits. Raise heat to medium-low. Stir in shallots and cook, basting scallops with pan juices until shallots soften and scallops are just cooked (1-2 minutes more). Transfer scallops to a warm serving platter.
5. Add honey and vinegar to skillet. Whisk to deglaze the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Spoon a mound of parsnips purée into the center of serving platter. Place scallops around it, spoon pan sauce over scallops, and scatter sage on top. Serve to the admiring glances of all your dinner mates.
   Yield: 4 servings.