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Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Brown Butter, and Basil


Serves 4

  • To learn more, read:
    Perfectly Seared Scallops
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 108

In this easily assembled meal, vermouth-laced brown butter imbues cauliflower with deep flavor, while a basil garnish adds color and freshness.

  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower (1 lb.), trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 4 cups)
  • 1 lb. all-natural (dry-packed) sea scallops
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the cauliflower and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil to the skillet. When shimmering hot, add the scallops in a single layer. Cook until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until the scallops are barely cooked through, about 2 minutes more (if you cut into one, it should still be slightly translucent in the center). Transfer to another bowl.

Swirl the butter into the skillet, add the shallot and cook, stirring often, until the shallot softens and the butter begins to brown, about 1 minute.

Add the vermouth and bring it to a boil, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Return the cauliflower to the skillet and season with 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower florets are tender, about 6 minutes.

Return the scallops to the pan and toss to heat through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the basil, and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Serve with a simple side: Sauteed Spinach with Shallots.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 300, Fat (kcal): 17, Fat Calories (g): 150, Saturated Fat (g): 5, Protein (g): 21, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9, Carbohydrates (mg): 8, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 1.5, Sodium (g): 270, Cholesterol (g): 55, Fiber (g): 2,

Photo: Scott Phillips

I rarely rate anything from FC with only a three star rating. It was "okay", not as outstanding as other recipes I've used. It was lacking depth. I'll try it again, next time adding a small amount of salt to each layer, instead of just at the end. Not sure how to accomplish it, but I also had difficulty getting the butter to brown since the shallots put off so much liquid. It's worth trying again though.

ok sense i am a seafood expert and restaurant owner and C.E.C,,this is a bit nu- complex for me,,it needs something,,like Sun-dried Tomatoes..or some Fire roasted Bell Peppers,,the dry scallops,,are a great choice,,,,Chef D

This came out really well, though it took a lot longer for the cauliflower to cook than I was expecting. The "sauce" ends up being a coating for the cauliflower with caramelized shallot throughout the dish. My version looked messier than the photo--less elegant. But it was absolutely delicious. The scallops were perfect--caramelized on the ends, creamy/silky in the middle.

Lovely flavor combination. To DesertDog: "Dry" scallops are simply scallops that have not been soaked in a chemical salt brine. This is done to keep them "moist" and give them a longer shelf life, but is not a good idea because they will not cook properly and they will not taste fresh. Any good fish purveyor should offer them. Ask before buying.

The recipe sounds delicious. I however have never seen dry scallops. Does anyone know where to get them?

Quick...Easy...and absolutely Delicious! Will definately be making again.

Yummy - simple and easy - be sure to have DRY scallops Would absolutely make again!

Easy... delicious.... a good "go-to" recipe.

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