Thursday, March 4, 2021

A Simply Scrumptious Scallops Recipe

This recipe is easy and elegant, but it takes hardly any time to prepare.

A colorful salad of corn, shredded carrots and greens surrounded by six caramelized scallops arranged on a white plate.
Image by Susan Foster.

Trying to say Simply Scrumptious Scallops quickly three times in a row may be harder than it is to make this recipe! 😉

In short order.
Years ago, when my husband and I were first married, a friend gave us a subscription to the magazine, Gourmet. It used to include a section called “In Short Order: Recipes That Beat the Clock” and those recipes always made us drool. Since we believed they were the type of recipe we could successfully tackle, even on a weeknight, we tore that section out of the magazine each month and compiled them in a binder. 

Those much-used pages have become dog-eared, bookmarked with sticky notes, and covered with ink and pencil notations.

A binder full of pages of recipes torn from a magazine.
Image by Susan Foster.

Back then, I had never cooked scallops before making “Sauteed Scallops With Watercress and Corn Salad” and neither had my husband, but this recipe looked appealing, so we tried it. The recipe was quick and easy; the hardest part was finding watercress in the produce section. Although Gourmet magazine is no longer being published, you can find the original recipe on Epicurious.

We made and served this recipe to guests on multiple occasions until we became more adventurous and accomplished cooks. We put it aside for many years, as we discovered a multitude of other recipes to try. 

How could we have forgotten something this good?
Recently, I was organizing my recipe collection, and I came across the recipe. We had just purchased some lovely sea scallops, so it was a straightforward decision to buy some watercress and make it for our Valentine’s Day dinner. That meal was so good, we wondered how we hadn't made this recipe for so long.

After some adjustments to the recipe, we like it even better
I made this recipe again this month and tweaked it according to our preferences and the ingredients we had on hand. 
  • I used baby greens as a substitute for watercress.
  • I increased the quantity of the dressing because mopping up the excess from the greens with crusty slices of bread is quite delicious. 
  • I doubled the amount of corn to make this a more hearty dinner meal.

Sea scallops are expensive, but they are very rich and filling, so you don’t need that many for this dish. We easily prepared it in a skillet on a single burner. This was important for us, as we are currently remodeling our kitchen. We haven’t had access to a stovetop, oven, or our kitchen/dining room table for quite a while!

A German Shepherd dog sitting in front of a small table set for 2 with white wine and scallops and salad on a plate.
We're remodeling our kitchen, so we've recently been eating in our family room. These scallops probably tempted our dog, but she just slept by our little table (without begging) while we ate. Image by Susan Foster.

I hope you will enjoy this simple and scrumptious scallop recipe as much as we do. I included my modifications to the original ingredients and instructions in the recipe below.

Sauteed Scallops With Corn Salad and Greens

(Adapted from Sauteed Scallops with Watercress and Corn Salad, published in Gourmet magazine, June 1993.)

Serves: 2
Prep time: ~20 to 30 minutes.


1/2 tsp Dijon mustard (preferably stoneground)
5 TBSP balsamic vinegar
5 tbsp olive oil, divided. 
1/2 pound sea scallops (smaller bay scallops could work, too)
2 tbsp minced shallots
3 cups baby greens (i.e. spinach and arugula) or watercress leaves. 
2 carrots, shredded
1 cup cooked (fresh or frozen) corn 
Salt and pepper, according to your taste.


  1. Cook corn according to package directions or until tender. Drain, place in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside.
  2. Whisk mustard, vinegar, and 3 TBSP olive oil together well. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Rinse scallops and pat them dry. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large cast-iron or non-stick skillet heat 2 TBSP olive oil (or enough to coat the bottom of the pan) over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add scallops in a single layer, not touching each other. If the pan is not large enough to accommodate them all this way, cook in batches. 
  5. Saute the scallops until they are golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side for sea scallops (less for smaller bay scallops). Do not overcook or they will become tough.
  6. Use a slotted spoon or spatula to remove scallops from the pan. Keep warm.
  7. Without cleaning the pan, add the shallots and a little more olive oil, if necessary. Add 1 tablespoon of the vinaigrette prepared in Step 2, above. Cook over medium heat until the shallot is translucent and softened.
  8. Remove the skillet from heat and return the scallops to it. Shake pan to coat them with the vinaigrette.
  9. Add the rinsed and dried greens, shredded carrot, and remaining vinaigrette to the bowl with the cooked corn. Toss well.
  10. Divide the corn salad onto two plates. Arrange half the scallops around the salad on each plate. Serve and enjoy.

A black three-ring binder, labeled “In Short Order Recipes (Gourmet)” with some torn-out recipe pages from a magazine poking out from it.
Image by Susan Foster

Please keep social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, get vaccinated, and stay healthy!

This post contains affiliate links. The opinions expressed, however, are entirely my own.


  1. Those quick and easy taste bombs are a wonderful find.
    Good luck with the kitchen revamp. I well remember that particular pain. It was worth it though.
    And I am a huge fan of shepherds and love your very patient dog.

    1. Yes, I'm sure we will be glad when our remodeling is all done, but boy, it has been a process! I've had a number of breeds of dog, but none as smart as this one. I am amazed by how quickly she can learn.

  2. Looks delicious, Susan. What an intimate little table! Might have to come and see your kitchen when we can finally visit people again since I remember it from the beginning. We are getting our second vaccine tomorrow. Will be nice to feel a little safer.

    1. So glad to hear you will be protected by the vaccine soon. Once it is all done and all is safe, we would love for you to visit!

  3. We’d love it, too. It’s been too long. You have to come over here and check out the little wine room in our shop.


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