Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad
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About This Recipe

As a Napa Valley native, I have always been inspired by the beautiful landscape, the vibrant vineyards, and the exceptional culinary scene that surrounds me. The creation of my Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad recipe was born from my love for the fresh seafood available in the Bay Area and the crisp, bright flavors of Napa Valley white wines. In true wine country fashion, this dish is elegant yet approachable, making it the perfect meal for any home chef or wine enthusiast.

The journey to crafting this dish started with a visit to the local farmer's market where I discovered some of the freshest, most succulent sea scallops I had ever seen. I knew right away that I wanted to create a dish that would highlight their natural sweetness, and what better way than to pair them with a classic French sauce like lemon beurre blanc? This velvety, citrus-infused sauce is a match made in heaven with a dry white wine from one of Napa's premier vineyards, such as Cakebread Cellars or Stags' Leap Winery.

When it came to crafting the perfect side dish for these pan-seared scallops, I wanted to incorporate flavors that would both complement and contrast the richness of the beurre blanc. That's where the idea for the fennel salad was born – its bright, crisp, and slightly anise-flavored profile is a delightful contrast to the rich sauce and succulent scallops.

For those looking for an ideal side dish to accompany this delectable entrée, I recommend a simple side of quinoa or a creamy risotto. Not only do these grains provide an excellent canvas for the scallops and beurre blanc, but they also add a delightful, earthy element that ties the dish together beautifully.

When it comes to dessert, I suggest something light and refreshing like a lemon sorbet or a berry-filled pavlova. These options will cleanse the palate and provide a fitting end to a sumptuous wine country-inspired meal.

As you prepare this dish, remember that the best ingredients can often be found right here in Napa Valley. From the seafood to the produce, our local markets offer an abundance of fresh, high-quality ingredients that can elevate any meal. And don't forget to pair your culinary masterpiece with a local white wine that showcases the unique terroir and winemaking traditions of our region.

In closing, I hope you enjoy creating and savoring this Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad recipe as much as I have. It truly embodies the essence of Napa Valley, and I'm confident that it will delight your senses and transport you to our enchanting wine country. Happy cooking, and cheers to your Napa Valley-inspired culinary adventures!

The Splendor of Sea Scallops

Sea scallops, often regarded as the crown jewels of the ocean, are renowned for their delicate texture and subtly sweet flavor. A culinary favorite in many cultures, they are a testament to the ocean's bounty. Sourced from the deep cold waters, these mollusks boast a tender, creamy texture that pairs beautifully with various ingredients, from the crispness of Napa Valley white wines to the zest of fresh lemons. When cooked to perfection, they embody the very essence of luxury in every bite. Sea scallops are not only a gourmet delight but also packed with nutrients, offering a good source of protein, B vitamins, and essential minerals like magnesium and potassium.

How to Perfectly Pan-Sear Scallops

Achieving Golden Perfection

  1. Dry Them Out: Before cooking, pat your sea scallops dry with paper towels. Removing excess moisture ensures a beautiful, crispy sear.
  2. Preheat the Pan: Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Wait for the oil to shimmer, indicating it's at the right temperature.
  3. Don't Overcrowd: Place scallops in the skillet ensuring enough space between each. Overcrowding can lower the pan's temperature, leading to steaming instead of searing.
  4. Time It Right: Sear scallops for 2-3 minutes on each side. When it forms a golden crust, it's time to flip.
  5. Rest and Serve: Once done, remove them from the pan and let them rest a minute before serving.

FAQs for Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad

  1. Can I use bay scallops instead of sea scallops? Yes, you can use bay scallops, but they are smaller and will require a shorter cooking time. Keep a close eye on them to avoid overcooking.
  2. How can I store leftover Lemon Beurre Blanc? Store the sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat gently in a saucepan over low heat, whisking continuously to prevent separation.
  3. Are there any substitutes for dry white wine in the recipe? If you prefer not to use wine, you can substitute it with chicken or vegetable broth and a splash of white wine vinegar to maintain acidity.
  4. I'm allergic to dairy. Can I make the beurre blanc without butter? Traditional beurre blanc uses butter, but you can try substituting with a dairy-free alternative. The texture and flavor might vary slightly, but it should still be delicious.
  5. What tools do I need for this recipe? A good-quality non-stick skillet is crucial for perfectly searing the scallops. Additionally, a whisk will be handy when making the Lemon Beurre Blanc to ensure a smooth and velvety sauce.

Ensuring Culinary Triumph

  1. Quality Matters: Invest in fresh, high-quality sea scallops from a trusted source. Fresh scallops should have a translucent, pearly appearance and a fresh ocean scent.
  2. Temperature Control: Ensure your skillet is at the right temperature before adding scallops. A hot pan will give your scallops that sought-after golden crust.
  3. Salad Dressing Tip: When dressing the fennel salad, do so just before serving to maintain the freshness and crunch of the vegetables.

With these insights and tips, you're well on your way to creating a Napa Valley-inspired masterpiece in your own kitchen. The marriage of pan-seared scallops with the zesty Lemon Beurre Blanc and crisp fennel salad is a culinary journey worth embarking on. Enjoy!

Recipe Overview

Pan-Seared Scallops with Lemon Beurre Blanc and Fennel Salad
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 12 large sea scallops
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and lemon juice, stirring to deglaze the pan. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half.
  4. Lower the heat to low and gradually whisk in the cold butter, one cube at a time, until fully incorporated and the sauce is thickened. Stir in the chopped chives and season with salt and pepper.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the sliced fennel, arugula, and red onion. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine.
  6. To serve, divide the fennel salad among four plates, top with three scallops per plate, and drizzle with the lemon beurre blanc.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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