This refreshing salad of seared scallops, grapefruit, shaved fennel, and wild rice is the perfect antidote to the heavy winter meals.
During the winter I find myself turning on the oven for a lot of roasting and braising meat. To balance it out, my body craves for lighter meals and refreshing salads. This seared scallops, grapefruit, shaved fennel, and wild black rice salad is the perfect antidote to the heavier meals of winter. It only requires four ingredients with very little done to them to create one of the most delicious salads on this blog.
The key to this salad is to source in season grapefruit, young fennel, and fresh sea scallops. Winter is peak season for grapefruits and you can use any varieties you like. If you can’t find grapefruit, you can substitute with blood oranges or cara cara and will still have an amazing salad. With young fennels, you’ll be rewarded with a tender bulb that has a sweet and beautiful anise flavor. Shaving a fennel bulb into paper-thin slices requires a mandoline but the thin fennel slices add a wonderful crisp to this salad.
Ask your fishmonger where the scallops came from and when they’ve been caught. You want sea scallops that are large, fresh, glossy, and untreated. Treated scallops means they have been soaked in the phosphate solution that’s often used to preserve and plum them. I was intimidated by cooking scallops until I tried the technique from Taste and Technique Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking by chef Naomi Pomeroy. The trick to getting perfectly seared scallops is to remove any excess moisture prior to cooking and use a cast iron pan with the right temperature. If they don’t sizzle the second they hit the pan, they won’t develop that nice golden brown crust. The sweet and juicy taste of the seared scallops are balanced by the crispness of the fennel, citrus forward flavor of the grapefruit, and nuttiness of the wild black rice. This seared scallops grapefruit and shaved fennel salad is light, refreshing, and the perfect antidote to winter cooking.
If you want more salad inspiration, check out these recipes: watermelon radish carpaccio with arugula salad, za'atar roasted radishes and lentil salad, and za'atar roasted romanesco steaks with lentils.
Seared scallops grapefruit shaved fennel and wild rice salad
- 1 young fennel bulb
- fennel fronds for garnish
- 2 small red grapefruits
- ½ cup wild black rice
- 1 pound sushi grade sea scallops
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsps olive oil extra virgin
- 2 tbsps grapefruit juice
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- To make the salad, wash the fennel and discard the tough outer bulb. Reserve some feathery leaves or fennel fronds for garnish.
- Cut the bulb in half and use a mandoline to thinly shave the fennel and place in a bowl with cold water.
- Cut a slice off the top and bottom of each grapefruit so they have a flat bottom to sit on. Use a sharp knife to cut the peel and remove as much of the pith from the grapefruits as you can. Segment the grapefruits into a prep bowl. Reserve grapefruit juice for dressing.
- To make the dressing, in a sauce bowl, whisk together olive oil, grapefruit juice, mustard, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Bring a pot of water to boil over medium high heat, add the rice and cook according to package instructions. Rinse under cold water, drain, then set aside to cool.
- Lay the scallops on a paper towel and gently blot to remove any excess moisture. Season the scallops on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large cast iron pan on medium-high heat until very hot. Add half the olive oil and heat until the surface is rippling but not smoking. Pour off any excess oil leaving only a thin, even film of oil on the pan.
- Add half the scallops to the pan and they should audibly sizzle as soon as they hit the pan. Press down firmly with a spatula to ensure even browning. Sear the scallops for a minute and a half until they develop a nice, golden crust.
- Flip the scallops and press down again with the spatula and cook for another 45 seconds to a minute, depending on the thickness of the scallops.
- When the scallops are cooked, remove them from heat and set them on a plate. When you cut into the scallop, it should be translucent in the middle.
- Repeat the step with the remaining scallops.
- When ready to serve, add the rice, drained fennel slices, and segmented grapefruits to a serving platter. Arrange the seared scallops on top. Garnish with fennel fronds. Drizzle with some of the pan juices and salad dressing.