Pan Seared Scallops with Orzo, Tomatoes, & Basil

I’m going to totally date myself here.  I’m like, not afraid.  I know my readers, and I know I’m like, totally in good company.  So all of you children of the 80’s, here’s a Monday Morning Sing Along, with an educational twist.  Bonus points to any of you who still know the lyrics by heart (and sing this in your best little kid voice):

”Next time you go on a trip, remember this little tip:
The minute you get back, they’ll ask you this and that,
You can describe peo-ple, places and things…
Simply unpack – your adjectives
You can do it – with adjectives
Tell them ’bout it – with adjectives
You can shout it with adjectives!”

There you have it.  “Unpack Your Adjectives” was one of my favorite songs from School House Rock.  If you recognized it, I’m sorry there’s no prize money involved.  But satisfaction in knowing that all of those hours in front of the TV on Saturday mornings in 1976 didn’t amount to nothing.  It’s not entirely useless knowledge; I still quote School House Rock to the punks on occasion!  Just a few months ago I dazzled them at the dinner table by reciting the entire Preamble to the Constitution, which I learned not from my 7th grade government teacher, but from School House Rock.

Now before I bust out “Conjuction Junction” or “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly”, I’ll move on to what got me started on this theme in the first place:  Sea Scallops.  I recognize that I’m easily diverted.  I got caught up unpacking my adjectives.

First of all, this dish is very, very easy.  The list of ingredients is short.  The sauce is simple. With lemon, tomatoes and basil, it’s fresh, bright, and tangy, and comes together in a skinny minute.  Pan-searing the scallops creates a delicious, golden crust on the outside, and keeps them smooth and silky on the inside.  Serve a crisp and chilly chardonnay alongside –  it’s quite a lovely dinner for minimal effort!

How was that for descriptive? Enjoy your Monday!


Serves: 4


  • 1 c. orzo or other tiny pasta
  • 1 – 1” inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 large stalk of fresh lemongrass, tender inner core of bottom third only, coarsely chopped
  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 stem tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 3 T. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 lb. large sea scallops (on sale this week, 2/17/10 to 2/23/10, for $11.99 lb.)

In a saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the orzo, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and rinse lightly.

Meanwhile, in a mini processor, mince the ginger with the lemongrass.  Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a medium skillet.  Add the ginger and lemongrass and cook over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add 2 tablespoons of the basil and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.  Add the scallops, season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about 2 ½ minutes (do not fiddle with them for a full 2 ½ minutes.  I’m serious!).  When they have a golden crust on the bottom, turn them and continue to cook for one more minute.

Mound the orzo in shallow bowls and top with the tomatoes and scallops.  Sprinkle with the remaining basil and serve.


Featured, Fresh, Frugal, Fabulous | February 22nd, 2010