Taking just minutes to sear, scallops are a fast, yet elegant, weeknight meal. In this recipe, we serve the briny, buttery mollusks atop a healthy grain salad made with just a few simple ingredients. For the dressing, marinate chopped garlic in lemon juice and lemon zest to mellow its sharp flavor. Then toss the dressing with cooked farro while it’s still warm so the chewy, nutty grains absorb all of the dressing’s flavors. Stir in fresh, peppery arugula and serve as an easy weeknight meal for four, or as part of a fish course for a fancy dinner party for six.
What to buy: Farro is a whole-grain relative of wheat with a nutty flavor. When cooked, each grain retains a firm, chewy texture. You can find it in the bulk section of many well-stocked grocery stores and in most Italian grocery stores. If you can’t find it, spelt makes a decent substitute.
Look for “dry” scallops that are off-white in color: They aren’t chemically treated, allowing them to caramelize naturally during searing. Avoid “wet” scallops that are plumped, stark white in color, and treated with preservatives like phosphates—they’re bland in flavor and will not brown properly when seared.
4 1/2 cupswater
1 1/2 cupsfarro
2 teaspoonskosher salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 medium lemon)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/4 cupolive oil
3 ouncesbaby arugula, washed and coarsely chopped
1 poundsea scallops (about 16 medium)
Bring the water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the farro and 1 teaspoon of the salt, stir to combine, and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue simmering, stirring occasionally, until the farro is tender, about 25 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the remaining teaspoon of salt, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and measured pepper in a large, nonreactive bowl and stir to combine. While whisking continuously, add 3 tablespoons of the oil in a slow, steady stream until it’s fully incorporated. Set the bowl aside at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
When the farro is ready, immediately drain it. Re-whisk the lemon-garlic dressing, add the warm farro and arugula, and stir to combine. Set aside while you cook the scallops.
Remove the white opalescent tab (called the catch muscle) from the side of each scallop, pat them very dry with paper towels, and season both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Place the scallops in the pan and sear without disturbing until the bottoms are deep golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, flip the scallops (if they stick, wait until they naturally release before flipping) and sear the second side until the scallops are opaque in the center, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large plate.
Stir the farro salad to recombine, then divide among 4 plates. Divide the scallops over the salad and serve immediately.