Get Fancy with Pan-Seared Scallops

A lot of people are quick to dial Seamless when they want a relaxing night in, but the physical act of cooking can be way more soothing than takeout. The slicing, dicing, and stirring can be a meditative way to work through what’s on your mind or let the day go. Getting creative with a home-cooked meal and enjoying a job well done can reframe your view of a situation and boost (or renew) your faith in yourself. 

On days I need to restore my confidence or hit the reset button, I gravitate towards foods that taste and look fancy but which are actually effortless. Scallops are what I make when it seems the whole world is going wrong and I need a little reminder that I’m not completely powerless. In the face of sweeping change, I can still get a nice sear on some scallops, and so can you! 

Pan-Scallops are one of my favorite types of seafood because they’re delicious, nutritious, and easy to prepare. They’re high in protein, low in fat, and will set you back about 100 calories per serving. They’re also a great source of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. 

One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is over red lentils with sauteed arugula. This recipe makes 2 servings (either for two people or so you can have leftovers the next day), but feel free to scale up or down. 


1 cup water
½ cup red lentils, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and diced
5 ounces arugula
1/2 lb sea scallops
Sea salt and pepper to taste


  • Combine water and lentils in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Cover and cook about 15 to 20 minutes until lentils are tender, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside. 
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and stir until translucent. 
  • Add arugula and lower heat. Stir until arugula is wilted. Set aside. 
  • Heat remaining oil in another skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add scallops. Cook until beginning to brown (1 to 2 minutes).
  • Turn over and cook until browned on the other side (another 1 to 2 minutes) and scallops are just barely opaque in the center.
  • Pour lentils onto a plate and top with arugula and then scallops. Serve hot. 

Serves 2

Jessica Cording is a registered dietitian and writer. She blogs at Keeping It Real Food.