Introduction: Cookoo for Coconut 3-course, 1-pan Dinner

Coconut is used in a couple of ways and some not too complex techniques are applied to pull together a three-course, four-dish, one pan meal. The techniques may not be complex, but timing is crucial. I’ve made this meal three times now, I think I’ve got it down; it’s not a difficult meal, it's fun, but you definitely need to pay attention. It takes a total of about 30 minutes prep and 30 minutes cooking time.

About the Dishes

Scallops (the surf)

The sea scallop a.k.a. “diver” scallop is a larger, thicker, meatier (and some say chewy) scallop than its smaller, sweet and delicate cousin the bay scallop. Either variety can be found on most “posh” menus, usually seared. While we love our seared scallops, it’s not the only way to prepare them. There is a way of baking scallops to a perfect doneness with a sweeter, tender texture and the same crunch as a sear with a couple of “nut” inspired techniques. Fresh is preferred, but frozen is ok, just be sure they are fully thawed before using as this can affect cooking time. Also, FYI, sea scallops are harvested year-round so finding fresh, shucked sea scallops in your local grocery is more likely.

Steak (the turf)

A steak by any other name… just isn’t the same. You can use your favorite cut with this meal, I prefer the rib eye or the tenderloin. The rib eye is moister; the tenderloin will be drier (it’s all in the fat on the bone, so to speak). Other cuts like NY strip can be used, but avoid the thinner, courser, and grainier cuts like skirt steak.

I know, oven baked steak just doesn’t conjure thoughts of the thick juicy slabs you get off a grill, but this one pan technique is just amazing. The trick is first the cut, then the seasoning, but the real kicker with this dish is cooking at high temperature then a quick broil. I wouldn’t hold this steak up to my hubby’s awesome Big Green Egg grilled steak, but he did give it a thumbs up rating.

The Gratin

I grow my own vegetables year round and zucchini, a most amazing Cucurbit, is one of my favorites. It’s in the same family as the gourd and we gardeners know it as a “summer” squash, normally signaling that it is soft skinned and has a shorter time to harvest.

My crop production is huge for a family of 2. I give away more than I eat and sometimes I miss a zucchini or two during harvest. That explains the giant I used in this dish (pictured). He was hiding in my zuke forest. When you let your zukes get so big, they may get tough. The technique I use here brings back the zucchini’s soft, creamy texture. Another technique called, “gratin,” adds even more creamy texture and a surprising crunch.

Gratin is a culinary technique where a browned crust, is formed on top of a food cooked under a broiler. The food can be anything, a vegetable, pasta, or meat. Closely related but slightly different is “au gratin”, a technique using mainly “scrapings,” the word’s origin, from the pan to form the crust. With gratin, cheese, often breadcrumbs, and a fat source such as heavy cream/butter is used to form the crust. I’ve heard the term is also used to refer to the “upper crust” in society or maybe scaping the bottom of the barrel.

Using French terms always makes things sound classier.

“Honey, the Gratins are coming for dinner…”

NOTE: slicing the zukes can be tricky, use a mandolin or my technique is to make a flat bottom on the vegetable so I can set it on the board and slice with my trusty chef knife.

The Crumble (mango skins pictured)

A good friend of mine loves mangos and she loves coconut even more… so she inspired this dish. Mangos are hard to find diced, except my friend does manage to get large jars of them at our local bulk grocery, I went the whole mango route.

I’ll come right out and say it, preparing diced mangos is a pain. I won’t even try to explain the process I used for extracting the meat from this fruit. Suffice to say, it was a sticky mess, but I did find it to be similar to extracting the meat of an avacado. The mango has a really hard “stone” in the center that you have to work around and I didn’t’ get nicely “dice-able” pieces either, mostly pulled strands, but they worked, they were meaty and very, very juicy. Luckily, fresh, peeled pineapple is easier to come by.

I’ve mentioned the sweet, juiciness you’ll get with this dish, but there’s also what that crumble topping brings to it. It’s hard to describe but if you close your eyes when you take a bite it’ll remind you of something delicious you had as a kid, parfait comes close, but you try it, see what it reminds you of.


You’ll need an oven; a large sheet pan; 3-4 mixing bowls; a good chef knife; cutting board(s); grater/food processor; favorite utensils for measuring, stirring, flipping, etc.; heat pads; mandolin is optional

Shopping, Pantry/Refrigerator List, for two servings

  1. 2 beef tenderloins
  2. 6 large sea scallops
  3. 1 medium-large zucchini when evenly sliced lengthwise, yields about 12 slices
  4. 1/2 medium sweet white onion, evenly cut into thin moons
  5. 1/2C Gruyere cheese, grated
  6. 1/2C diced mango (about 1 whole fruit)
  7. 1/2C diced pineapple
  8. Coconut milk, full fat, unsweetened
  9. Coconut, flakes/shaved, sweet
  10. Panko or other course breadcrumbs
  11. Macademia nuts, coarsely chopped
  12. 1 stick unsalted butter
  13. 1/4t nutmeg
  14. 1/4t vanilla extract
  15. 1/3C sugar
  16. 1/3C flour

Olive oil, used through out, keep the bottle out
Course salt
Cracked black pepper

Step 1: Get Main Ingredients Ready

Lightly rub both sides of steak with olive oil and season to taste on both sides with a course salt and cracked black pepper

Place scallops in a bowl of coconut milk

Dice mango and pineapple

Thinly slice zucchini lengthwise

Cut onion in thin moons

Assemble topping ingredients

Set aside, meats should be at room temperature when ready to use

Also bring a stick of butter out to soften

Step 2: Precook Gratin Layer

  1. Set oven to broil
  2. Lightly grease a sheet pan with some olive oil
  3. Equally lightly, rub olive oil on one side of the zucchini
  4. Toss onions in a small amount of olive oil
  5. Assemble the zucchini (oiled side up) and onions on the pan, try not to overlap the pieces
  6. Place pan on second rack from the broiler
  7. Broil until zucchini and onions are soft, translucent and slightly browned (about 8 minutes, watch closely to not let them overcook)
  8. Remove and set aside
  9. Wipe down the pan with lightly oiled paper towel
  10. Turn off the oven to let it cool

NOTE: this can be an optional step, but I recommend it because this gratin sauce has to be rib sticking creamy with just enough sweetness. I use coconut milk and a Swiss cheese relative, Gruyere, to accomplish this, but by doing this step, the zucchini actually develops a melt in your mouth creamy texture.

Step 3: Prepare the Toppings

The Gratin Topping

  1. In a bowl combine about 1/2C each: Coconut milk and grated Gruyere cheese
  2. Add nutmeg
  3. Salt and pepper to taste
  4. Set aside

The Crumble Topping (pictured)

  1. In a bowl, combine about 1/3C each: sugar, softened butter, flour
  2. Blend with a fork or your fingers until it forms stiff dough clumps
  3. Add more butter if not clumpy or too dry, add more flour if too pasty
  4. Set aside

The Coconut Topping

  1. In a bowl, combine about 3T each: shredded coconut, breadcrumbs, coarsely chopped macademia nuts
  2. With a fork, blend in just enough softened butter to create flakey, not sticky or doughy, consistency
  3. Set aside

Step 4: Arrange Your One Pan

From this point on you’ll be cooking 4 dishes on one large sheet pan. You’ll need to visually divide the pan into thirds width-wise. You’ll be working in the far right and left thirds first, reserving the middle third for the steak. The suggested arrangement is pictured left.

Arrange the Zucchini Gratin

  1. Set oven to 400º
  2. Arrange a layer of zucchini to fill the first 1/3 of the pan, you can slightly overlap the slices
  3. Top first layer with a layer of the precooked zucchini and onions
  4. Pour gratin topping over the layers
  5. Cover with foil

Arrange the Crumble

  1. Spread diced mango and pineapple on pan, filling about half of the second third opposite the zucchini on the pan
  2. Sprinkle vanilla across the top
  3. Reserve space in this third for the scallops

Place pan on middle rack, cook 20-30 minutes.

You want the crumble and the gratin topping to start to firm up.

Now the meat!

Leaving the crumble and gratin (covered) on the pan, add the steaks and scallops to the pan placing steaks in the middle third and scallops in the third above the mango and pineapple crumble.

Cook all until steaks and scallops reach doneness, about 8 minutes for a medium rare steak or using a thermometer, 135º. Add a dollop of softened butter to the top of the steak prior, if desired, this adds to its tenderness and flavor! The scallop should take about the same amount of time. To test the scallop, cut one in half, it should be one, opaque color and not mushy. You should start both meats from room temperature (pictured right).

If you want a slightly more, well-done steak you’ll need to remove the scallops and put foil over the crumble, leave the foil on the zukes, adjust your timing.

Step 5: Let's Put a Crust on It

  1. Dust the scallops with the coconut topping.
  2. With all four dishes on the pan, turn the oven to broil and carefully broil until the steaks brown slightly, the gratin develops its crust, the crumble and the scallop topping are slightly toasted, takes about 3 minutes.

This happens quickly, and pretty much at the same time, so you need to watch.

Remove all from the oven, divide portions, serve hot on one plate or in courses, notice I used the mango shell as a bowl, in keeping with a truly one-pan meal.

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