pan seared scallops with saffroned fregola and roasted vegetables

February 5th, 2010 · 25 Comments

the scallops arrived at my door on a dreary winter’s morning, overnighted from catalina seafood in san diego. they were the huge dry diver scallops – 6 to a lb. and just as beautiful as i’d ever seen. i had decided upon another sardinian recipe by my new bff chef efisio farris (i’m currently on a roll). you see, i’ve been in a bit of a scallop rut. i buy them. i sear them. and then usually just throw them on top of a salad. if i’m feeling semi ambitious i might puree a well steamed head of cauliflower with some fresh thyme and olive oil and plop a few scallops on that. because to me, scallops usually mean a cook-free, no fuss dinner. they are just SO EASY. and the best ones are perfectly delicious with just a good sear.

but this recipe spoke to me. i had both fregola, a small toasted pasta and some saffron in the cupboard along with some freshly made chicken stock in the fridge, so all i had to do was make a quick produce run.

if you want to know how to perfectly sear a scallop, the secret is to begin with some of these beauties… never frozen, firm and plump and HUGE. just get the pan very hot, add some butter or olive oil – or both, and sear away until nicely caramelized. if they look white as snow and ooze liquid, chances are they’ve been soaked in phosphates making it nearly impossible for them to brown without overcooking. they’ll also shrink up and not have much flavor. something to perhaps ask your fishmonger before you buy. of course here in nashville the closest thing we have to a fishmonger is the guy behind the counter at whole foods. oh, the cost of living landlocked…

it’s a beautiful presentation. the sear of the scallops with the saffron and bits of tomato and arugula. pretty food. but the sweetness of the honey against the salt of the scallops and the peppery arugula are what will make you fall…

pan-seared scallops with fregula and roasted vegetables
adapted from
sweet myrtle and bitter honey by efisio farris

1 cup chicken stock
1 cup fregola (you could substitute israeli couscous if you had to)
1 bay leaf
1 pinch saffron
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 pinches sea salt
2 green onions, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
12 diver scallops
1 bunch of arugula, chopped
1 tablespoon
abbamele (i used honey)

 in a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. add fregula, bay leaf, saffron, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. cook covered for 8 to 10 minutes. all liquid should be absorbed by the fregula.

heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. saute green onions, shallot and celery for 2 to 3 minutes. add zucchini, squash and tomato and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. combine fregula and vegetables and cook on low heat for another minute. add additional stock or hot water if it seems too dry.

in another skillet heat remaing 2 tablesppons of oil and cook scallops until golden and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. turn and brown the other side.

divide fregola mixture among 4 plates and top with the arugula, or you can use the arugula as a bed for the fregula. top each with 3 scallops.

finish by drizzling honey and some good olive oil.


again, it’s the ingredients. everything that went into this dish was at its best. the scallops from catalina ocean products were truly beyond wonderful.

and you see? it’s a 20 minute dinner. just add some good bread and a bottle of wine, and you’re amazing!

but i knew that already… 

Tags: pasta · seafood

25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Amy at Minimally Invasive // Feb 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

    If this is a diet, perhaps I’ll join you. My mouth is watering.

  • 2 Robert // Feb 5, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I could so eat that…..

  • 3 Maggie // Feb 5, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    just. gorgeous.

  • 4 Rachel (S[d]OC) // Feb 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    The colors in your fregola are just beautiful.

    My hubby loves scallops, but I’m still trying to get the hang of cooking them. I’m terrified of overcooking!

  • 5 Donald // Feb 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    luv luv luv scallops. they call to me whenever they are fresh.

    and our WF gets some really good ones from time to time.

  • 6 Steve Turcotte // Feb 5, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    Ohhhh Claudia…blackened with grits and tomato aspic OR mango salsa. Divine!!

  • 7 CeeElCee // Feb 5, 2010 at 3:09 pm


  • 8 kristie // Feb 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I’ve had scallops a couple of times (both were in some honeydew/lavender business at my favorite name-drop in Chi-town), and they were delicate and gorgeous. However, given my feelings on seafood, I’m loathe to try them anywhere else, lest it ruin the memory I have of them.

  • 9 The Italian Dish // Feb 5, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Oh, my…you’re getting me right where it hurts. I adore good scallops. I’m sure the shipping costs are astronomical, but I just may have to order some…your recipe looks amazing.

  • 10 John // Feb 5, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    GREAT DISH again.

    I lova the scallops. Now I need to work on my pantry.

  • 11 Pam // Feb 6, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Gorgeous dish, Claudia.

  • 12 Melissa // Feb 6, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Okay, okay, I’ll go! 😉

  • 13 Trent in Denver // Feb 7, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I’m a scallop fan and eat them all the time. I’m off to the store to see if I can find the ingredients to make this. It really sounds fantastic. Perfect dinner even on Superbowl Sunday!

  • 14 Stella // Feb 7, 2010 at 9:37 am

    Not big on seafood. But this is some good looking food. Might try a chicken version. I think it could totally work. Or maybe even lamb. Mmmm…

  • 15 CuriousEats -Lissa // Feb 7, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Looks great! I have such a hard time finding fresh scallops! I wish we had them a lot more often!

  • 16 claudia // Feb 7, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    stella – the lamb with the honey drizzle sounds brilliant… great idea!

  • 17 Laura @ Hungry and Frozen // Feb 9, 2010 at 1:29 am

    Had to google fregola and have never even tried scallops but this looks and sounds gorgeous…particularly love the sound of the stock that the fregola is cooked in.

  • 18 lo // Feb 9, 2010 at 10:06 am

    The discovery of dry scallops made a believer out of Peef, whose previous experience with soggy, slimy, overcooked scallops made him THINK that he despised them. Turns out, he just disliked the phosphates. heh.

    As for me, I’m a scallop devotee (it’s the definition of “fast food” as far as I’m concerned). And you pair that with a bit of saffron… well, I’m yours before you ever begin.

    This is perfect V-day food, if you’re into that sortofa thing :)

  • 19 ken albala // Feb 9, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I wonder is you could make fregola by hand and dry them yourself. What labor, but just imagine. They’re toasted dry and cooked later, right?


  • 20 BKShopper // Feb 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    A feast for your eyes!

  • 21 nancy at goodfoodmatters // Feb 10, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Beautiful sear on those babies, stellar dish.
    It’s been a while since I’ve had truly delectable scallops…

  • 22 deana // Mar 18, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Thanks so much for the suggestion of Catalin Seafood. I got some uni in NYC and it wasn’t very good… their stuff looks great!

  • 23 Nick // Apr 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    just. gorgeous.

  • 24 Jonathan // Apr 27, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Ohhhh Claudia…blackened with grits and tomato aspic OR mango salsa. Divine!!

  • 25 Bruce // May 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    Gorgeous dish, Claudia.

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