Seared bay scallops are paired with corn, grilled zucchini and summer squash over farro and arugula for this light summer salad. The dressing is made from the brown butter left in the pan from searing the scallops and is drizzled over the salad. I love grilling zucchini and summer squash so that it has a slight char to it. It pairs perfectly with the crunch of the corn and nutty grains of farro.
Brown butter or beurre noisette is used commonly as a sauce over a pasta dish like butternut squash ravioli or in French pastries. In this recipe I use it to add a nutty flavor and fatty element to contrast the scallops. As you cook the brown butter it will crackle and foam as it cooks and as it stops crackling, keep an eye on it so that it does not burn. It will turn from a yellow to a pale brown and then to a deep golden brown and smell nutty. The bits that remain from searing the scallops help flavor the brown butter and I finish it with a squeeze of lemon and chives.
I love making the most of sweet summer corn picked up from local farm stands. When buying ears corn, look for a bright green husk that is tight around the corn. Feel the kernels through the husk, they should be plump. (I like to peel back a section of the husk to double check the kernels.) Look at the tassel (the strings at the top), it should be yellow or light brown – it should have a sweet smell.
Farro is an ancient grain. It looks similar to cooked grains of brown rice and has a nutty, complex taste. Italians use it in place of rice to create risottos and it tastes great added to salads. Though it’s referred to as a one, it’s actually different three grains – farro medio is what is typically found in the US. While I just use farro in this recipe try substituting half quinoa like in this recipe here.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Add the farro, and cook on medium-low heat until the farro is tender, about 20 minutes. Strain any remaining water then fluff the grains with a fork and set aside.
Heat a grill pan over medium heat until almost smoking. Add the slices of zucchini and summer squash, cooking until grill marks appear, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper then flip the slices and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Remove the small side muscle from the scallops and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper then add the scallops to the pan.
Sear until the bottoms of the scallops are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Remove the scallops from the pan and set aside then add the remaining butter to the pan, cooking until the butter smells nutty and pale brown, about 3 minutes.
Add the lemon and chives to the pan, swirling to combine. Set the sauce aside until ready to serve.
Divide arugula among serving bowls and top with farro, corn, zucchini and squash. Top each with scallops and drizzle the pan sauce over the top. Garnish with the remaining chives and serve immediately.
I always buy dry-packed scallops. Dry-packed scallops are fresher and get a better sear on them since they don’t have any additives. They also have a delicate, sweet and natural taste. Always the anomaly, I happen to have an allergy, not to shellfish, but to the chemical solution that is injected into some scallops with the purpose of keeping them fresh and moist longer.
If you enjoy this brown butter scallop recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:
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