I’m usually wary of scallops, because they are often pumped full of water and phosphates to make them weigh more and appear snow white. These scallops are sometimes called wet scallops and are difficult to sear properly. Dry scallops, on the other hand are untreated and sear well. Scallops are now in season, so we were able to find some nice ones recently. I used them in this recipe from the September 2012 issue of Bon Appetit and they were excellent. The scallops are seared in butter and thyme and then topped with an almond vinaigrette. Don’t overcook the scallops or they will be tough – two to three minutes a side should be fine. A smear of peach or apricot preserves on the plate makes a very pretty presentation. This dish could be served as either an appetizer or main course.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

In addition to the scallops, the almonds, vinegar, butter and preserves may contain artificial ingredients. Check the label on the almonds to makes sure nothing has been added. Look for unsalted butter with a single ingredient: cream (if you don’t use much butter, store it in the freezer). I didn’t have sulfite-free white vinegar on hand, so I used Eden Organic brand red wine vinegar and it was fine. I also didn’t have peach preserves, so I used Greaves peach apricot jam, which contains only sugar and apricots.

This vinaigrette uses finely chopped almonds

Sear the scallops for 2-3 minutes on one side

Add butter and thyme and sear the other side

Seared scallops with almond vinaigrette


1/4 cup roasted almonds, preferably Marcona

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 tablespoon (or more) Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

8 large sea scallops (about 9 oz.), side muscle removed

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 sprigs thyme

2 tablespoons peach preserves

Fresh herbs, baby arugula, or microgreens


Finely chop almonds into small pieces but not into a powder. Mix almonds and 4 Tbsp. oil in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1 Tbsp. vinegar and chives; season vinaigrette with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, if desired.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Add to skillet. Cook until deep golden and caramelized, 2–3 minutes. Turn scallops; add butter and thyme. Cook, frequently tilting skillet and spooning butter over, until scallops are deep golden and just cooked through, 2–3 minutes longer. (Basting adds extra flavor.)

Stir preserves and 1/2 tsp. water in a small bowl to loosen. For an appetizer, smear about 1/2 Tbsp. preserve mixture in center of each plate. For an entrée, smear 1 Tbsp. preserve mixture. Top with 2–4 scallops each. Drizzle some vinaigrette over. Garnish with herbs.

From the September 2012 issue of Bon Appetit