Pan-Seared Scallops with Warm Asparagus, Kale and Tangerine Salad – when scallops cook up in a flash, dinner can be served in no time with this easy recipe.
Note: This post first appeared on April 6, 2016. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. Skip ahead to read the story behind the recipe. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.
There’s a certain elegance to scallops that makes them feel like they should be reserved for special occasions or restaurant meals. But it’s such simple seafood to prepare, and cooks in just minutes, making them very well suited to a home-cooked meal!
Pan-Seared Scallops with Warm Asparagus, Kale and Tangerine Salad is a restaurant-quality dish you can whip up at home in under 30 minutes! How is that possible? Scallops only take about 4-5 minutes to cook, slender stalks of asparagus blanch in just minutes, while the kale is wilted in a flash. Tossed in a delicious sesame-tangerine salad dressing, you will love how flavorful and juicy this wholesome salad can be!
HOW TO MAKE PAN-SEARED SCALLOPS WITH WARM ASPARAGUS, KALE AND TANGERINE SALAD
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside.
- Lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Set aside.
- Bring an inch of water to a boil in a deep-sided skillet. Cook the asparagus for about 2 minutes, or until bright green.
- Sauté kale and red onion and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add the asparagus and about 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
- Transfer the greens into 4 bowls. Top with scallops, tangerine segments, and sesame seeds. Serve with additional dressing.
PAN SEARED SCALLOPS COOKING TIPS
How do you achieve perfect pan-seared scallops? It’s easy with these tips:
- Buy “dry” scallops. Dry scallops are pinkish to ivory in color and have no chemical additives. “Wet” scallops are treated with a solution of water and sodium tripolyphosphate to preserve them and do not taste as fresh and flavorful than dry scallops. Scallops should smell sweet and fresh.
- Blot the scallops well with paper towels. You want them to be as dry as possible before searing.
- Preheat a heavy skillet on high heat or a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat (it’s best not to use non-stick cookware over excessive heat).
- Avoid crowding the scallops in the pan, you run the risk of steaming them as they release their juices. It’s better to work in smaller batches if your pan is not large enough.
- Once your scallops are in the pan, let it cook and turn it just once. Avoid the temptation to flip them over and over as they won’t get that beautiful color.
- Sear scallops for about two minutes per side until just firm to the touch and nearly opaque. Avoid overcooking as they can get rubbery.
- Serve immediately! As the scallops sit, the ambient heat continues to cook and they can turn rubbery if you wait too long.
MORE EASY AND HEALTHY SEAFOOD RECIPES
Seared Scallops with Citrus Salsa
Grilled Shrimp Foil Packets with Basil, Garlic and Red Curry Compound Butter
Spicy Shrimp Fried Rice
Grilled Swordfish Kebabs with Citrus Herb Salsa
Salmon Coconut Chowder from Foolproof Living
Note: This post first appeared on April 6, 2016. The recipe has been updated from the archives with updated content and photographs, as well as improved kitchen notes and recipe annotation. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen.
Pan Seared Scallops with Warm Asparagus, Kale and Tangerine Salad
For the dressing
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the scallops
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12 scallops
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
- 1 small bunch asparagus cut in about 3 inch pieces
- 6 cups baby kale
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tangerines peeled and cut into segments
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Make the dressing
- In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Cook the scallops
- Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Working in batches, lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper, and sear for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Flip the scallops and cook for about 2-3 minutes more, until the other side is also golden brown. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Make the salad
- Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a deep-sided skillet or saute pan. When the water is bubbling, salt the water, then drop the asparagus and cook the asparagus for about 2 minutes, or until bright green. Strain the asparagus in a sieve, running it under cold running water. Set aside.
- Return the skillet to the stove and heat it over medium heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and drop in the kale and red onion. Stir the greens and cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add the asparagus and about 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
- Transfer the asparagus and kale into 4 bowls. Top with scallops, tangerine segments and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Serve with additional dressing.
THE STORY BEHIND THE RECIPE
This was the inspiration behind the recipe and part of the post when it was first published on April 6, 2016.
It was Friday morning and my son found me in front of my vanity. I was getting ready for a flight and he held back, watching me put on cc cream, the dots and dashes streaking my face. As I started to blend it in, he piped up.
“It looks like war paint, mom.”
“Ha, yes, I suppose it does,” I agreed.
“I like it better when you don’t wear that, mom. Sometimes it’s too much. You don’t need it.”
My sweet boy, I thought in my head, but I do. Every day I’m heading into battle.
Women are warriors in life, and in a way, maybe those little rituals that get us ready for the day is our way to prepare for life’s battles. No matter how big or small, it is real. Maybe you’re fighting a disease. Maybe you’re dealing with a problem with a loved one. Maybe you’re facing a day watching little ones without a helping hand.
In my case, I was getting ready to fly down to LA and speak at a conference. I got through it, and now that IACP is a few days behind me, I can reflect on how it was a rewarding weekend, in more ways than one.
When I got back home, I had just a little time before I needed to pack again. But I had time to make something homemade, something to counter all the restaurant and airport food.
Beautiful scallops had caught my husband’s eye when he went to the market, along with tender asparagus and fresh kale. On the table sat a bowl of beautiful tangerines. It reminded me of the tangerine salsa that I tasted while at the conference, and how it brought some freshness to a savory tostada. I decided to bring that into a salad.
This Pan-Seared Scallops with Warm Asparagus, Kale and Tangerine Salad went perfectly with the warm spell we’ve been enjoying. It cooked so quickly without heating up the kitchen, and I loved serving it over a warm salad with a citrus vinaigrette. Bright segments of tangerine added extra sun to each bite, the little bit of war paint the salad needed to give it some body. Even salads could use a little help, sometimes.