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Pan-Seared Sea Scallops with Cauliflower Purée and Fried Capers

Scott Phillips

Servings: 4

Sweet scallops nestled in a dreamy, creamy cauliflower purée make a simple but elegant dish. Crisped capers add just the right bit of briny pop.


  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 large head cauliflower, cut into 2-inch florets (about 3-1/2 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice; more to taste
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne; more to taste
  • 3 Tbs. canola oil; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup drained capers, patted dry
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/4 lb. dry sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter; more as needed
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 350
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 30
  • Fat (g): 25
  • Saturated Fat (g): 10
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 4
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 10
  • Cholesterol (mg): 75
  • Sodium (mg): 1080
  • Carbohydrates (g): 11
  • Fiber (g): 2
  • Sugar (g): 3
  • Protein (g): 21


  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel.
  • In a 2-quart saucepan, bring the cream and 1 tsp. of the thyme to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low, and cook until reduced to about 1/3 cup, 7 to 9 minutes.
  • In a wide pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring about 2 inches of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and season with 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover and steam until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the cauliflower to the prepared baking sheet and let dry for a few minutes. Remove the towel, letting the cauliflower fall onto the baking sheet, and bake the cauliflower until dry but not browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a blender, and add the cream, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, and the cayenne. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and cayenne. Keep warm.
  • Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the capers and the remaining 1/2 tsp. thyme, cover with a splatter shield (if you have one), and cook, stirring occasionally, until the capers are golden and puffed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest, cook for just a few seconds, and then, using a slotted spoon, transfer the capers, thyme, and zest to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  • Pat the scallops dry. Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the butter. Season the scallops with salt. Working in batches if necessary to keep from crowding, cook the scallops, undisturbed, until very well browned on one side, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until just barely cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes more, depending on size. Transfer to a plate. Repeat, if necessary, wiping out the pan and adding more butter and oil as needed.
  • Divide the cauliflower purée among serving plates, and top with the scallops. Garnish with the capers and parsley, and serve.


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Reviews (8 reviews)

  • kathybaker | 04/27/2021

    I love this recipe!! I double the cauliflower and capers, and serve with roasted asparagus. The golden bits left in the pan are fantastic on the dish. Condensed scallop flavour!

  • faye49 | 08/24/2019

    incredibly good, low on the calories and over the top on the flavor

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