Israeli Couscous and Scallops

I have always been intimidated by cooking scallops. When they are cooked perfectly, they are divine! So I set out to broaden my culinary horizons and broaden my children's eating horizons as well. They always look at something new with that turned down face and turned up nose! This is why I specifically paired these seared scallops with one of our family favorites, Israeli couscous. I was betting on the fact that one of those scallops would slip into their mouths while they were shoveling those savory little pearls down their mouths. It worked and they were a hit!

I learned that the key to the perfectly seared scallops is drying them out for a long time, searing them on a super hot smoking skillet, and not touching them other than the one time you flip them. So between my girls liking something new and me having seared scallop success, I am logging this as a good day in the kitchen!  And we used our lemon dijon vinaigrette with this dish too!

You'll Need

  • 2 cups mixed medley tomatoes, rinsed and cut in half
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous (if you buy a flavored couscous, discard the seasoning packet)
  • 2 3/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease (or vegetable oil)
  • 12 scallops, rinsed and dried completely on paper towels
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 3 tablespoons lemon dijon vinaigrette
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Toss the tomatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

3. Remove the tomato mixture from the oven and set aside to cool.

4. Heat a dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the couscous and toast for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Slowly add in the vegetable broth. Stir until combined. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Stir couscous frequently making sure it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Simmer until the liquid has absorbed and couscous is tender. Remove from heat and let cool.

6. Heat a cast iron skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat.  Let the pan get screaming hot. Add in the bacon grease.  Pat the scallops dry one more time and then add them to the pan. You will need to work in two batches, as you do not want to overcrowd the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Do not touch the scallops until it is time to flip. You will know that the scallops are done when you touch them; they should bounce back slightly. Once scallops are done, remove from heat and set aside.

7. Time to assemble.  Using a large bowl or platter, combine the couscous, roasted tomato mixture and arugula.  Stir in the lemon vinaigrette.  Add in the parsley, toasted pine nuts, green onions, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Top with the scallops.

Place a sheet of foil over the pan so grease does not splatter everywhere when you’re searing the scallops.
— Carrie