Pan Seared Scallops with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers


Imagine the sun setting over a sparkling Mediterranean coast, where the flavors are as vibrant and lively as the scenery. That’s the essence captured in our recipe for Pan Seared Scallops with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers. This dish is a testament to the simplicity and elegance of combining fresh, quality ingredients that speak for themselves. Scallops, with their sweet and subtle sea flavor, are seared to perfection and then adorned with the bright, tangy accents of tomatoes, olives, and capers, creating a harmonious blend that’s both refreshing and satisfying.

This recipe not only promises a quick gourmet experience but also invites you to indulge in the luxury of fine dining right in your own kitchen. It’s ideal for those who cherish seafood and seek to elevate their culinary skills without the fuss of complex preparations. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, celebrating a special occasion, or simply treating yourself to an exquisite meal, this dish will transport your senses to a seaside getaway, making any meal feel like a festive occasion.

Join us as we explore how to craft this culinary delight, ensuring every sear, sizzle, and sauce melds into a perfect symphony of flavors. Let’s bring the taste of the Mediterranean home with a dish that is as visually appealing as it is delicious.


  • 12 large sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


Step 1: Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper. This is crucial for achieving a golden, crispy sear.

Step 2: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the scallops to the skillet, being careful not to overcrowd. Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on each side until they develop a golden crust and are just cooked through. Remove the scallops from the skillet and set them aside on a plate.

Step 3: In the same skillet, reduce the heat to medium and add the butter and minced garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant but not browned.

Step 4: Add the cherry tomatoes, olives, and capers to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until the tomatoes start to soften. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Step 5: Stir in the lemon juice and return the scallops to the skillet. Cook for an additional minute, just to reheat the scallops and meld the flavors.

Cooking Note:

Scallops are delicate and can easily overcook, becoming tough and chewy. Keep a close eye on them, as they only need a few minutes per side to be perfectly tender.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve the scallops immediately after cooking, garnished with freshly chopped parsley and accompanied by lemon wedges for added zest. This dish pairs beautifully with a side of creamy risotto, a simple arugula salad dressed in olive oil and lemon, or crusty bread to soak up the flavorful sauce.


  • Choosing Scallops: Opt for dry-packed scallops, which haven’t been soaked in preservatives and will sear better.
  • Pan Selection: Use a heavy-bottomed pan or a cast iron skillet for even heating and the best sear on the scallops.
  • Wine Pairing: A glass of chilled Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc complements the briny, bright flavors of the dish wonderfully.

Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cooking Time:

10 minutes

Total Time:

20 minutes

Nutritional Information:

  • Calories: 250 per serving
  • Protein: 20 grams
  • Sodium: 800 mg


Q1: What type of scallops should I use for this recipe? A1: For the best results, use large sea scallops. They have a sweet flavor and meaty texture that stand up well to searing. Dry scallops, which have not been treated with chemicals, are preferable as they sear better and have a purer flavor.

Q2: Can I make this dish ahead of time? A2: Scallops are best enjoyed fresh and should be cooked just before serving to maintain their delicate texture and flavor. However, you can prepare the tomato, olive, and caper mixture ahead of time and simply reheat it when you’re ready to cook the scallops.

Q3: What should I do if I can’t find fresh scallops? A3: If fresh scallops aren’t available, frozen scallops can be a good alternative. Make sure to thoroughly thaw and dry them before cooking to achieve the best possible sear.

Q4: Are there any good substitutes for capers in this recipe? A4: If capers aren’t to your taste or you don’t have them on hand, you can substitute them with finely chopped pickled green peppercorns for a similar briny flavor. Alternatively, a small amount of chopped dill pickle can also work in a pinch.

Q5: What are the best side dishes to serve with this recipe? A5: This dish pairs well with a variety of sides. For a light meal, serve with a fresh green salad or steamed green vegetables like asparagus or green beans. For something heartier, consider creamy polenta, risotto, or a crusty loaf of bread to soak up the delicious sauce.

Q6: How can I ensure my scallops don’t stick to the pan while searing? A6: Make sure your pan is very hot before you add the scallops and use a high-smoke-point oil like canola or vegetable oil. Also, ensure the scallops are dry and season them right before cooking to prevent them from releasing too much moisture.

Q7: Can I use a different type of alcohol instead of white wine? A7: Yes, you can use dry vermouth as a substitute for white wine, which will still add a nice depth of flavor. If you prefer a non-alcoholic option, a little bit of white wine vinegar or lemon juice mixed with water can work as well.


Pan Seared Scallops with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers is more than just a meal; it’s a culinary journey that brings the essence of the Mediterranean directly to your dining table. With its perfect melding of sweet scallops and the tangy, briny flavors of olives and capers, this dish is a testament to the beauty of simple ingredients creating extraordinary experiences. Each bite offers a burst of flavor that not only satisfies the palate but also delights the senses.

The elegance and quick preparation make this dish an excellent choice for any occasion, from a casual weeknight dinner to a lavish gathering. It stands out with its vibrant colors and enticing aromas, promising to impress and satisfy your guests. Moreover, the health benefits of scallops and the fresh ingredients used in this recipe provide a nutritious meal that doesn’t compromise on taste.

This dish also encourages culinary exploration and creativity, allowing cooks of any skill level to experiment with flavors and techniques in the kitchen. The versatility of scallops means you can easily adapt this dish to fit your taste preferences or whatever you might have on hand in your pantry.

In closing, our Pan Seared Scallops with Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers is not just a dish but a celebration of the rich flavors and joyful spirit of the Mediterranean. It’s a reminder that great cooking doesn’t have to be complicated and that the best flavors often come from the simplest ingredients. So gather your ingredients, fire up the stove, and prepare to dish up a masterpiece that will leave a lasting impression on anyone fortunate enough to enjoy it.

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