These tender pan-seared scallops are simple to make, yet full of flavor (especially when the scallops are purchased locally and in season). Served with a delicious bed of kale, onion, and white beans this meal is a quick and easy option for your next seafood dinner.
I grew up in a small fishing town on the coast of Massachusetts, which meant that it was a normal part of my childhood to watch the fishermen bring in their catch of the day, watch a fish get weighed and prepped on the docks, and then head to the fish market to choose what we would have for dinner that night from an array of fish that were in season that time of year.
This was something I entirely took for granted, especially as I got older and began to notice the difference in quality between fish that was sourced locally and in-season, versus fish that may have not been sustainably sourced, and shipped from across the world.
So I started to educate myself more on sustainable fishing, and began to realize that just like our meat, dairy, and other agricultural systems, the fishing industry is just as polluted with unsustainable, unethical practices, which need to be changed if we are going to protect our oceans, our fisheries, and the people who work in them.
So to get started like I always do I began educating myself on the where our fish here in the United States is mostly coming from, and what were some of the best things that I could do both as a consumer and educator to help improve sustainability in our fishing industry.
I'm going to do an entire separate post about sustainable fishing (because it will be a long one), but for now I just want to give you a few tips/resources that you can use to get started in making the best choices possible when you choose to buy fish (no matter if you are at home or in a restaurant).
tips/resources for sourcing sustainable fish
- Opt for fish that has been caught locally. Whenever you are buying locally you are reducing the carbon footprint of that fish.
- Buying fish "in-season" has a direct impact on its sustainability in the sense that when you are buying in season you are buying that fish when it is in peak abundance. When you purchase fish out of season you could be negatively impacting fish stocks, which can overtime jeopardize the sustainability of that fish as a species.
- Explore lesser known varieties of fish. Most people only eat 1-4 different varieties of seafood when there are so many other options to choose from. Rather than always buying the most popular option, find a fish market and ask what they have that is abundant but less common. The more we can increase the demand for lesser known varieties, the more we can take some of the pressure off of these species of fish which fishermen rely on but are decreasing in quantity (not a good thing for the fishermen's livelihoods or the fish).
- Use resources like Seafood Watch and Sustainable Food Trust to learn more about sustainable fish/specific species, and what may work best for you personally in your area.
Now why don't we get into this recipe!
Since scallops are in season right now and I could purchase these fresh from a town right on Cape Cod, it was the perfect time to grab some scallops and make a special local seafood dinner.
We don't purchase scallops all the often because even in season they can be pretty expensive, but when we do we always make sure to savor and enjoy them!
In my opinion when in comes to scallops (and fish in general) less is more. So for these scallops I decided to cook them my favorite way, which is always to pan sear them. When pan searing scallops the trick is to get the pan and the oil or butter that you are using very hot. Scallops cook very quickly and the goal is to lightly brown the outside, without overcooking the inside (which is pretty easy to do).
For the base of this dish, I decided to go with kale and white beans which is a classic Italian combination that you will find used in countless side-dishes, soups, and entrees. For this scallop dish, I decided to create a warm bed of sauteed kale, garlic, onion, and white beans to compliment the scallops and create a flavorful and undeniably satisfying meal.
Seared Lemon Butter Scallops With Tuscan Kale & White Beans
- 1 pound scallops (always try to buy in season, here in New England that means during the winter)
- 1 head of kale
- 2 garlic gloves (chopped)
- 1 medium white onion (chopped)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 can white cannellini beans
- Sea salt + Pepper
- 1 lemon
- Remove kale from stems and massage with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Next, heat a large sauté pan with two tablespoons olive oil over medium heat, and add kale, chopped onion, and garlic.
- Cook until onion and kale begin to soften, then add 1 can of white cannellini beans to sauté pan.
- Reduce heat to low, stirring kale and bean mixture occasionally, while you cook your scallops.
- Next, place a separate sauté or cast iron pan with butter, and juice of 1/2 lemon over high heat.
- Add your scallops to the pan and allow them to brown on one side (roughly 2 minutes) before flipping to the other side, and allowing to cook for another 2 minutes.
- Remove scallops from heat and place them over kale & bean mixture on a plate. Sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, and lemon to taste.