Seared scallops are great for a back-pocket dinner. They’re easy, delicious and take no time at all to cook. They’re also perfectly suited to a number of side dishes. Try them with my Zoodles Aglio Oglio, Cauliflower Purée with a Secret, or alongside my Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges. Each pairing is sure to please!
I always keep a few bags of scallops in the freezer in case I’m in a pinch and need a quick protein source. Of course, fresh scallops are significantly better in terms of flavour. But I think there’s something to be said for frozen as well. After all, convenience is important when trying to maintain healthy eating habits. So is cost! And fresh scallops, particularly large sea scallops, can run you a pretty penny!
I personally like the President’s Choice Blue Menu Frozen Sea Scallops. This is not a sponsored post but I have included a link so that you can see which ones I’m talking about. They’re wild, sustainably sourced from Nova Scotia and around the same price as a bag of frozen, farm-raised scallops. I have also been making a very conscious effort to purchase North American seafood when possible. Fishing practices and health standards aside, I like to support domestic business if I can. I’ve used these to make my Bang Bang Scallops and my Seared Scallops with Salsa Verde. Both recipes are fantastic for a quick and easy dinner!
As mentioned, scallops go great with just about anything, but one of the classic pairings is a cauliflower purée. The silky, luxurious cauliflower balances the crispiness of the seared scallop. If you’ve never tried them together, I highly recommend it! One way to brighten this classic dish up a bit is to add a handful of spinach to the cauliflower before puréeing. Not only does the spinach add a bit of earthy flavour to the dish, it gives the cauliflower the most gorgeous colour! Think of it as a natural food colouring! It’s also a great way to sneak in some extra veggies! You can also try this with some blanched kale! As always, I recommend Vitamix machines f0r the job. Yes, they are expensive. But they are built to last, have great warranty, excellent customer service and are the industry standard for all things blended! The model pictured here is the Vitamix G780. Again, not a sponsored link – I purchased this machine shortly after starting Primal Gourmet.
How to Get Perfectly Seared Scallops:
Searing scallops is a very simple affair but requires a bit of know-how. With a bit of practice you will master this simple technique.
Hard and Fast
When searing scallops, you want to go hard and fast. If you cook them at too low of a temperature the scallops will become rubber before you develop a crust. On the flip side, too high of a heat and you will burn them before they have a chance to cook through. Always preheat your cooking fat of choice before adding the scallops. You want to listen for a sizzle when adding the scallop to the pan. If the pan isn’t singing, you need to raise the heat.
Right Amount of Fat
You will need to add the correct amount of cooking fat to the skillet. Too much fat and the seared scallops will be greasy. Not enough fat and the scallops will burn in the pan.
Dry Your Scallops
Always make sure to thoroughly dry your scallops before searing. A wet scallop will not sear – it will steam.
Select the Correct Pan for the Job
If using a non-stick skillet, make sure that it can withstand high heat. The best pan for scallops is a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet (I always recommend this model by Lodge). Equally well-suited are carbon steel skillets (again, Lodge makes great products). I have a vintage carbon steel skillet that is likely older than I am. Carbon steel is a bit more expensive than cast-iron but it has the benefit of being lighter in weight and coming with a longer handle, which is better for controlling the skillet.
If you follow these simple tips, and cook the scallops with love, you should be well on your way to seafood heaven!
I hope you like this recipe and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!
Seared Scallops with Cauliflower & Spinach Purée
INGREDIENTS: (serves 3-4)
400gr 20-40 scallops – thawed if using frozen
1 head cauliflower – cut into florets
2 cups fresh spinach
1 clove garlic – peeled
salt and pepper
1 tbsp ghee
1 tbsp avocado oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley leaves – for garnish
lemon wedges – for serving
- Roughly chop cauliflower into large florets. Add cauliflower and garlic clove to a stock pot with a steamer insert and steam until fork tender (approximately 15 minutes). Transfer steamed cauliflower and garlic to Vitamix along with spinach, 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Blend on high until completely smooth. Adjust seasoning as required. Transfer to serving bowl.
- Rinse and pat scallops dry with paper towel. Season both sides with a pinch of salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
- Preheat avocado oil and ghee in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Carefully add the scallops to the pan, flat side down. Sear for 2-3 minutes per side or until cooked through (if using frozen). Remove seared scallops from pan immediately. **Note: if cooking raw scallops, cook scallop until medium-rare.
- Spoon cauliflower purée onto a serving dish, top with seared scallops and fresh parsley leaves. Try serving alongside grilled vegetables or a side salad.