Caramelized Scallops with Baby Greens and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

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Seafood is a favorite treat in our family, and scallops are near the top of the list. Having recently returned from a vacation that included delicious food and wine, we both stepped on the scale and decided to begin a regime of dieting – or, at least, sensible eating with an eye on calories, fat, sugar, salt – you know the drill…

I don’t believe that healthy eating has to feel punitive, so I wanted to make a special treat for our supper that would fit with our plan. I actually developed this recipe in my head while cruising down the 101 as we approached Pismo Beach for the final night of our road trip to the Bay Area. That evening I slurped oysters while Larry enjoyed a huge shrimp cocktail. Of course, there was wine and a trip to the outlet mall conveniently located next to our hotel – but that is another story.

The scallops at our seafood market looked beautiful this morning and I had a plan to caramelize them and serve them over some fresh greens I hoped to pick up at the Farmer’s Market across the bridge in Coronado this afternoon. I picked some Meyer lemons from our tree and treated myself to a bottle of champagne vinegar. I was good to go.

Dress, toss and serve the greens on two dinner plates and pop them in the fridge. They will chill while you prepare the scallops, which cook in a flash. The hot, caramelized scallops on top of the chilled baby greens were the combo I had been hoping to serve for our supper.

Serves 2, generously

  • 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice or other fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and ground white pepper (optional)
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups organic mixed baby greens
  • 1 pound sea scallops, cut into halves vertically
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and ground black pepper (optional)

1. In a small deep bowl, measure out the vinegar. Add the mustard, salt and pepper and whisk together.

2. Add the olive oil, whisking as you pour.

3. In a large bowl, toss the greens with enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the lettuce. Serve onto 2 plates and chill salad in fridge while you prepare the scallops.

4. Pour the sugar into a plate and roll the scallops in the mixture. Set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, add the scallops and cook 3 minutes on each side until both sides are lightly browned. Do this in batches, adding more oil and heating it before cooking the second batch. (You don’t want to crowd the scallops in the skillet.)

6. Place a portion of the caramelized scallops on top of each plate of salad and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately.

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14 Responses to Caramelized Scallops with Baby Greens and Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

  1. Christy Ellingsworth (@DailyDishTweets) August 18, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Scallops are one of my favorite foods and this recipe sounds absolutely amazing. You’re so lucky to have a lemon tree in your yard!!

    • lizthechef August 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      Thanks – it is a quick one to pull together – and I do so appreciate our lemon tree.

  2. Lynda August 18, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Now that’s my kind of diet!

    • lizthechef August 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks, Lynda – too bad scallops are so expensive!

  3. chezsuzaane August 18, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    It was so wonderful sharing time with you in the Bay Area! And this recipe looks just perfect for that diet I’m on with you!!! I’ve never thought to roll scallops in some sugar to enhance the caramelization, but I can just taste it already! Beautiful photo too!

    • lizthechef August 18, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

      Thanks, Susan, I had never tried the sugar before – and the taste disappears with a squeeze of lemon.

  4. Stacy (Little Blue Hen) August 19, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    It’s a rare occasion when the hubby can resist scallops on a menu, but I don’t make them at home terribly often. Why it hasn’t occurred to me to add them to a salad to encourage him to eat that, I do not know, but you are brilliant.

    • lizthechef August 19, 2011 at 12:58 am #

      Thanks and please help me tune in to the slow food event here – I LOVE the idea of local stuff…Actually, I have the link from Jane, please just keep me advised? X0 Liz

  5. domenicacooks August 19, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    My kids love scallops, Liz. We are facing the same situation as you–back from vacation, need to eat lighter. This sounds like a good place to start. I am terribly envious of your Meyer lemon tree, Liz Lemon ; )

    • lizthechef August 19, 2011 at 1:19 am #

      I wonder what they cost back East AKA God’s Country? They are $28. per lb at my favorite seafood market here 🙁 but delicious. Thanks for your comment X0 Liz

  6. Sunchowder -Wendy Read August 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    These looks fabulous, great photo 🙂 My Meyer Lemon tree has lots of lemons, but they are still green 🙁 Will have to wait until December…I just used my LAST one, picked it off the tree sadly…I am going to try this recipe, I love scallops.

    • lizthechef August 20, 2011 at 1:07 am #

      Our tree has been late too, Wendy. Only in the last month has it looked go to go. Fortunately, our neighbor’s tree matures earlier and I am happy to supply her with jam and chutney 😉

  7. Trevor Sis. boom August 20, 2011 at 8:38 pm #

    Um…yum! I adore scallops but I am the only one in the house that does so I make them for my own lunch all the time and this will be great to try.

    Please don’t forget you promised me Mango Chutney! I love the stuff!

    • lizthechef August 20, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

      Sure – I thought that Greg of Sippity Sup had posted this – but of course, chutney for you too – are you coming to Santa Monica in November for IFBC?

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