Seared Scallops and Corn Salad for One

published Jul 17, 2023
Cooking for One
Seared Scallops and Corn Salad Recipe

Eating alone is a special occasion, and these pan-seared scallops paired with a fresh corn and tomato salad are the perfect way to celebrate

Serves1

Prep10 minutes

Cook15 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of seared scallops and corn salad on green plate placed on a white surface
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

Cooking for One is my column dedicated to solo dining. No matter what stage of life you’re in, you’ll find a new recipe every month that makes preparing a meal for yourself a special occasion. Find the recipes here, and subscribe to the Cooking for One newsletter to follow along.

As a single woman who lives alone, I sometimes laugh at the irony of routinely developing recipes for upwards of four people. Even when I’m cooking for fun and not for work, I often find myself lamenting about the amount of leftovers I will have, and how much I know I’m going to dread eating the same thing for more than two days.

There are several chefs and writers who have tackled the task of cooking for one, like Joanie Zisk in her book, The Ultimate Cooking for One Cookbook, but I still find myself wishing there was more recipe content out there geared toward eating alone. I’ve learned so much about myself from the time I’ve spent alone, and I want to celebrate moments of solitude! 

In the past, I reserved special meals for nights when I had company, but why wait? To remedy that, I will be developing a new recipe for eating solo each month — starting with these seared scallops served over corn salad. 

I can’t think of a better way to kick off a summer of treating yourself than with this recipe. Seafood can be so pricey, but when you only have to buy enough for yourself, it’s so much more accessible, and this dish is a prime example! For a group of four, you’d have to splurge on 16 to 20 scallops, but when it’s just you, you only need to buy a handful. 

The scallops get a hard sear on both sides, and then they’re placed atop a simple, but flavorful, corn salad made with tomatoes and basil. It’s summer in a dish! From start to finish, this recipe is ready in just 30 minutes. If you’ve got a balcony — or, in my case, a fire escape — this dish tastes best al fresco. 

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: Nicole Rufus

If You’re Making Seared Scallops and Corn Salad for One, a Few Tips

  • Don’t touch the scallops! Once you place the scallops down in the skillet, resist the urge to move them around until it’s time to flip them. Otherwise, you won’t develop the hard sear that makes these scallops taste so delicious.  
  • Use fresh or fully thawed scallops. I found that frozen scallops were often cheaper than fresh ones, and this recipe works with both, but be sure that your frozen scallops have thawed completely before cooking them — excess moisture in the skillet will also prevent that hard sear you’re looking to form. 

Seared Scallops and Corn Salad Recipe

Eating alone is a special occasion, and these pan-seared scallops paired with a fresh corn and tomato salad are the perfect way to celebrate

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 15 minutes

Serves 1

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 ears

    fresh corn or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon

    red wine, apple cider, or rice vinegar

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/2 cup

    cherry or grape tomatoes

  • 3

    fresh basil leaves

  • 4 to 5

    sea scallops (4 to 4 1/2 ounces)

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. If using fresh corn, shuck 2 ears corn and cut the kernels from the cobs. Melt 2 tablespoons of the unsalted butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fresh corn kernels or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the kernels begin to char, 5 to 9 minutes.

  2. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined.

  3. Halve 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes. Thinly slice 3 fresh basil leaves. Add both to the bowl of dressing. Add the corn and toss until everything is coated in dressing. Transfer the salad to a shallow bowl or a salad plate.

  4. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering and a whisk of smoke appears. Meanwhile, pat 4 to 5 sea scallops dry with paper towels. Season all over with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

  5. Add the scallops to the pan and cook undisturbed until the bottoms are dark golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the scallops and cook undisturbed for 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon unsalted butter to the skillet. Spoon the melted butter over the scallops as they cook for 1 minute more. Transfer the scallops onto the corn salad.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The corn salad can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container.

Storage: The corn salad can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Leftover scallops can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.