A prawn cocktail might have sufficed as a starter in the 1970s. 50 years on, the new kid on the block is this amazing prawn and scallop au gratin! Juicy prawns and succulent scallops in a delicious Diane sauce make a fantastic starter. Try it for yourself and thank me later!
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Prawns and scallops in Diane sauce
Even though I say it myself, I think this prawn and scallop au gratin is amazing. It’s made with prawns and scallops which have been smothered in a creamy Diane sauce, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs and oven-baked until the cheese is melted and golden.
Just imagine digging your fork through the crispy au gratin topping and spearing a juicy prawn or a succulent scallop covered in the tasty sauce. Imagine closing your eyes and savouring each delicious mouthful. Imagine your tastebuds going into overdrive as you finish the dish and want an extra serving!
That’s what a starter is all about. Definitely not enough to fill you up; but just enough to whet your appetite for the delicious meal to follow.
If you are planning on serving a starter before your Christmas banquet, then I heartily recommend this prawn and scallop au gratin. I have to say, I am SO over prawn cocktails, having eaten them many times over the years. This is the starter of the future, and it starts right here, right now!
And the best thing about it (apart from the taste) is that you can prepare it in advance and pop it in the oven for a few minutes when you are ready to serve it. Talk about saving time when preparing your Christmas feast!
So without further ado let’s get on with how to make it.
What you will need
Not too much equipment is required, just a saucepan to make the sauce.
And you will need 4 small ovenproof ramekins to bake the starter in.
This recipe will make enough for 4 starters. You can easily increase it to make more starters by adding more prawns and scallops and doubling the sauce ingredients.
**Get the complete list of ingredients and full instructions for making this prawn and scallop starter on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Prawns and scallops – I buy these frozen from my local supermarket. I like to buy headless unshelled prawns which have already had the dark vein down the back removed. If you have to clean the prawns yourself you can remove the vein by slitting the prawn down the back and using the point of a knife to ease the vein out. You will need three or four prawns and three or four scallops per person.
Garlic – just one clove, finely chopped. You can leave this out if you prefer, or use minced garlic from a jar.
Shallot – peeled and finely chopped. If you can’t find shallots you can use a small white onion, which has been finely chopped.
Tomato puree/tomato paste – this is highly concentrated tomatoes, not to be confused with tomato ketchup.
Milk – you can use full-fat or semi-skimmed.
Cream – I used double (or heavy) cream, but you can get away with using single (or pouring) cream.
Butter – this forms the base of the sauce, so use butter rather than margarine.
Paprika – adds a smoky flavour to the sauce.
Brandy – this is the distinctive taste in a Diane sauce. You could substitute with sherry or if you don’t drink alcohol, substitute with grape or apple juice.
Cornflour – for thickening.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper – for seasoning (to your own taste).
And I completely forgot to include the grated cheese and breadcrumbs in the above photo which are used for topping the prawn and scallop starter. I like to use panko breadcrumbs because they are so crispy, but you could use normal breadcrumbs if you prefer.
What to do
Melt the butter in a frying pan and fry the chopped shallots and garlic gently until they start to soften.
Stir constantly to ensure they don’t burn.
Once the shallots have softened, mix in the cornflour and then add the milk and cream.
Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens.
Stir in the paprika, tomato puree and the brandy.
Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Pat the prawns and scallops with a piece of paper towel.
Arrange the prawns and scallops into oven-proof ramekins.
Spoon the sauce over the prawns and sprinkle with a mixture of grated cheese and breadcrumbs.
Bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven (200C/400F) for 20 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
Garnish with a sprig of parsley to serve.
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The sauce should be a thick pouring consistency. If it is too thick, add a splash of milk. If it has not thickened enough, mix another teaspoon of cornflour with milk and stir it in slowly over a low heat until the sauce has thickened.
Because the prawns have been frozen, they will more than likely have absorbed water which will leech out into the sauce as the dish is in the oven, causing the sauce to become runny. Patting them with a piece of paper towel helps to remove any excess moisture.
Yes, assemble the prawn and scallops and top with the sauce and cheese and breadcrumbs. Leave them covered in the refrigerator (for no more than 2 days) until you are ready to bake them. Then bake as per the recipe instructions.
I wouldn’t freeze this dish. The prawns and scallops have already been frozen and defrosted so I wouldn’t recommend freezing them a second time.
That’s a good question – and the answer is ‘no, you can serve this dish as a main meal‘. I like to double the amount of sauce and mix in the prawns and scallops and serve spoonfuls of the sauce over pasta, with a side of crusty garlic bread to mop up every last drop of the sauce.
Save for later
If you would like to try this prawn and scallop au gratin for yourself, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest Boards so you can find it easily. Just click on the image below.
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If you enjoyed this recipe you may also like these other easy starters:
- Mushroom tarts – one or two of these mushroom tartlets make a delicious and easy starter.
- Creamy chicken liver pate – one of my favourite starters served with crispy bread and perhaps a helping of green tomato chutney.
- Garlic stuffed mushrooms with ham and cheese – garlic, mushrooms, ham and cheese – need I say more?
Prawn and scallop au gratin
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 4 ovenproof ramekins
- 12 small shelled and deveined prawns
- 12 small scallops
- 1 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 – 2 small shallots finely chopped
- ½ stick / 60 grams butter
- 2 tablespoon / 20 grams cornflour
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup cream double (heavy) or single (pouring)
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree/ tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon brandy or sherry substitute with apple or grape juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup / 60 grams grated cheese
- ½ cup / 30 grams panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped shallots and garlic. Stir continuously so the onions don't burn.1 clove garlic, 1 – 2 small shallots, ½ stick / 60 grams butter
- Once the shallots have softened, mix in the cornflour and then stir in the milk and cream. Stir over a low heat until the mixture thickens.2 tablespoon / 20 grams cornflour, 1 cup milk, ¼ cup cream
- Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika, tomato puree and the brandy (or sherry)1 tablespoon brandy or sherry, 1 teaspoon paprika, 2 tablespoons tomato puree/ tomato paste
- Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.Salt and pepper to taste
- Pat the prawns and scallops with a paper towel to dry then and then arrange them into 4 ovenproof ramekins.12 small shelled and deveined prawns, 12 small scallops
- Spoon the sauce over the prawns and sprinkle them with a mixture of grated cheese and breadcrumbs½ cup / 60 grams grated cheese, ½ cup / 30 grams panko breadcrumbs
- Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden.
- Serve hot as a starter/appetiser
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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