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Scallops and pancetta, with parsnips and parmesan recipe

by Alex Mugan on July 31, 2021

Scallops need a bit of something. The texture is great, the delicate flavour appreciable, but without the oomph, scallops can get stuck in second gear. We have tried and loved scallops with ‘nduja, and scallops with chorizo, but here is a bit of a favourite, based on scallops and pancetta.

This is a seasonally versatile dish, tasting in keeping at any time of year. Combining fish, meat, salt, nuts and cheese makes for a complicated list of ingredients, but nothing to be frightened of in terms of method. You can do this. You should do this.

The recipe

Serves 4


  • 12 x queen scallops, roe on or off depending on your preference
  • 150g of pancetta (cubes, rashers or rounds)
  • 100g of parmesan cheese
  • 100g of hazelnuts
  • 500g of parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 50ml of vegetable stock
  • Handful of pea shoots (optional)
  • 50g of butter
  • 1 lemon
  • 100ml Sunflower oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. Chop and toast ¾ of the hazelnuts over a gentle heat.
  2. Put the toasted hazelnuts in the sunflower oil and leave for a few hours, or overnight to infuse.
  3. Strain the hazelnut oil through a sieve before using.
  4. Chop the parsnips and boil in salted water for 12 minutes.
  5. Blend the cooked parsnips, butter and vegetable stock, until smooth. Grate in ¾ of the parmesan cheese and check seasoning. Keep warm until serving.
  6. Mix the remaining hazelnuts, the remaining parmesan and black pepper together.
  7. If you’re using cubes of pancetta, fry them over a medium heat. If you’re using rounds of pancetta, fry them over a medium heat. Once cooked, set them aside and keep warm.
  8. In the pan you used to cook the pancetta, over a high heat, sear the scallops. Cook them from one side only for a couple of minutes.
  9. Lift the scallops out of the pan, spread a very little parsnip puree over the seared top of each, then dip them in the ground hazelnut mix.
  10. Serve with a smear of parsnip puree on the plate, topped with the scallops, pancetta scattered around (or laid on top of the scallops if using rashers or rounds), hazelnut oil dressing the plate, a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
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