If you peruse the pages or websites of most food publications for Mother’s Day meal inspiration, it won’t take you long to deduce that all moms are partial to delicate dishes made of poached salmon or goat cheese tarts.
While it seems a little sexist to think that Mom couldn’t possibly enjoy a grilled steak as much as Dad, I’m willing to look past it if the delicate dish is also a delicious one. And Seared Scallops With Brown Butter Lemon Sauce and Roasted Cauliflower Purée certainly passes the taste test.
Scallops are inherently a celebratory dish. Perhaps it’s because good scallops can be pricey. Perhaps it’s because they are rich and buttery in flavor. Whatever the reason, whatever the occasion, scallops do not disappoint, unless you’re cooking with wet scallops.
It sounds strange, but when shopping for scallops you may see them labeled “wet” or “dry.” Dry scallops are a natural product that are packed on ice to preserve them. Wet scallops have been soaked in a phosphate solution to give them a whiter appearance and keep them fresher longer, which sounds like a good thing, but isn’t. The process also causes the scallops to retain more water (up to 30%) and gives them an off, soapy flavor.
The flavor problem is easy to understand — no one likes their scallops tasting like soap — so let’s move on to the water problem. Water retention causes weight gain (I know, not breaking news) and more water weight means you’ll pay more for those scallops at the register. It also means more liquid in your skillet, preventing the scallops from getting their lovely crust, and causing them to essentially boil in the skillet, turning them rubbery and reducing their size considerably.
Now that we’ve firmly established the benefits of dry scallops, let’s move on to one of my favorite ways to serve them, bathed in brown butter. The nuttiness of browned butter, combined with a bright, citrusy splash of fresh lemon juice, makes for an easy but sophisticated sauce.
Like the scallops, it’s important to buy good butter when making a butter sauce. Inexpensive butter often has a higher water content, which will lead to more sputtering and popping in the pan during the browning process, so for this sauce, I look for a good-quality butter.
A flavorful purée of roasted cauliflower, onions and cream forms a flavorful base for this decadent dish. Roasting the cauliflower, as opposed to boiling it, concentrates the flavor and caramelizes its natural sugars. It also dries it out, allowing you to add liquid, in this case cream and broth, that will bring more richness and flavor to the purée without making it too loose.
Although this dish does take a few steps to complete, none of them are difficult or time-consuming, and the result is an impressive, some would say delicate meal, perfect for Mother’s Day, or any other day you want to feel like celebrating.
Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram at