Seared Scallops with Grapefruit–Fennel Salad

Erin French

The Lost Kitchen, Belfast, ME

“Whereas raw scallops are sexy, soft, and delicate, their seared counterparts are meaty, juicy, and rich. Cooked for mere seconds in a cast-iron pan and basted with butter (which melds with the scallops’ natural brine to make the easiest-ever pan sauce), seared scallops are the best party trick because you don’t have to stand at the stove for long to put out a dish that’s refined, bright, and totally delicious. Serve as-is for a casual dinner or make smaller portions for an elegant starter or first course for eight to ten people.” —Erin French in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine


Macerated Shallot Vinaigrette:

  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar, or enough to just cover the shallots
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A couple twists of pepper

Grapefruit–Fennel Salad:

  • 2 grapefruits, segmented, juice reserved 
  • 1 fennel bulb, shaved 
  • Handful of purple mustard greens or arugula 
  • Olive oil 
  • Salt 
  • 1 1/2 pounds day-boat sea scallops 
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter


Make the macerated shallot vinaigrette: combine the shallots and rice vinegar and allow to macerate for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight. Whisk in the olive oil and pepper. You could store this in your fridge for up to a week, but you’ll get the freshest, brightest flavor if you use it within 24 hours. This recipe makes 1/2 cup vinaigrette.

Make the salad: toss the grapefruit segments and fennel with 2 tablespoons of the macerated shallot vinaigrette in a medium bowl. Mound the mixture in the middle of a platter. Use the same bowl to dress the greens with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Use your hands—the greens should feel lightly coated. Scatter the greens on the platter around the fennel. 

Lay the scallops on a paper towel to gently blot any excess moisture. Lightly salt the tops. Heat 2 large skillets, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat and pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil into each. Arrange the scallops in the pans, salted-side down, so they’re not touching. Sear the scallops until golden brown, about a minute and a half. Sprinkle the scallops with salt, then flip and cook for another 30 seconds. 

Add 2 tablespoons of butter to each skillet and cook for another minute, until the scallops are barely cooked through. Remove the pans from the heat and arrange the scallops on top of the salad. Drizzle with some of the pan juices and a bit of the reserved grapefruit juice.


Adapted from The Lost Kitchen: Recipes and a Good Life Found in Freedom, Maine by Erin French (Clarkson Potter, 2017)


6 servings