A lot of people think of scallops as gourmet, restaurant food but the truth is that they’re really easy to make at home. They’re perfect for a light, fast and easy meal because they only take minutes to cook. I didn’t grow up eating scallops and didn’t really discover them until I was an adult. Now it’s a safe bet that I’ll order them if I see them on a restaurant menu. When I was in culinary school, I learned the proper way of cooking them and now I love to make them at home. In restaurants, scallops are often basted in butter and served with rich sauces but on their own, they’re actually really good for you. Scallops are low in calories and packed with lean protein. They’re rich in a wide variety of nutrients including selenium, phosphorus and zinc. In addition, compared to other seafood, scallops are typically low in mercury. Scallops are also low in saturated fat but have heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Because of the numerous health benefits of omega-3s, the USDA dietary guidelines recommend eating two servings of seafood per week. So the next time you reach for salmon or tuna, consider trying something different and grab some scallops instead.
Scallops have a mild, sweet taste and you don’t want to overwhelm them with bold flavors. I like to pair them with fresh, summer corn. I sauté the corn with some shallots, a touch of garlic and some white wine. At the end I stir in some fresh basil and a dab of Neufchatel cheese to give the corn a creamy texture. You can also use crème fraiche or mascarpone but Neufchatel is a healthier option.
My Seared Scallops with Creamy Corn is an elegant, restaurant-quality dish that's easy to make at home.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup minced shallots
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups fresh corn cut from the cobs (can use defrosted frozen corn)
- ¾ cup dry white wine or low sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 2 ounces Neufchatel cheese
- 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh basil plus extra for garnish
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound large sea scallops (about 12-16 scallops)
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes until softened. Add the corn and cook another 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to high and add the wine or stock. Cook a few minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese and basil. If the corn is dry, add a little more liquid until it is creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper. When the pan is really hot, add the scallops. Cook 2-3 minutes without moving them until a golden crust forms. Carefully flip the scallops and cook another 2 minutes on the second side until just cooked through. Serve scallops on a bed of creamy corn. Garnish with basil.