Scallop Pepper Antipasti Salad

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Scallop pepper antipasti salad combines the delicate sweetness of seared scallops with the smoky depth of piquillo peppers, all brought together by a fragrant garlic-infused olive oil. The dish is perfectly balanced with the nutty crunch of sunflower sprouts and the rich, buttery undertones of ghee, making each bite a harmonious blend of flavors and textures.

microgreens with red bell pepper and seared scallops
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Fresh Scallop and Pepper Antipasti

When I visit my parents at their home in suburban Baltimore, I love indulging in the wide variety of fresh seafood that is all over. Scallops are a particular favorite and when we were visiting this last time they were in season.

My mom and I went to a local farmers market on Saturday where we picked up some fresh bay scallops and sunflower sprouts. We raided the pantry and this lovely fresh light lunch salad was born that day!

microgreens with red bell pepper and seared scallops

How to Make Scallop Salad

First assemble the following ingredients:

  • Scallops (1 lb) – Scallops are the star of the dish, offering a delicate, sweet, and slightly briny flavor reminiscent of the sea. Their tender, succulent texture makes them a luxurious and elegant component of antipasti.
  • Ghee (2 tbsp) – Ghee adds a rich, nutty, and slightly caramelized flavor that enhances the natural sweetness of scallops. Its high smoke point allows for perfect searing, contributing to the scallops’ golden crust and savory depth.
  • Salt and pepper – Salt is essential for seasoning, heightening and balancing the natural flavors of the scallops and the other ingredients. It helps to bring out the inherent sweetness of the scallops and the nuanced flavors of the accompanying vegetables. Freshly ground black pepper adds a mild heat and a piquant edge, which contrasts beautifully with the sweetness of the scallops and the richness of the ghee. It introduces a subtle complexity to the dish.
  • Sunflower sprouts (3 cups) – Sunflower sprouts bring a fresh, slightly nutty, and earthy flavor that complements the richness of the scallops and ghee. Their crisp texture adds a refreshing contrast to the tender scallops and soft peppers.
  • Piquillo peppers (6) – Piquillo peppers are known for their sweet, slightly tangy flavor with a hint of smokiness. They add a vibrant color and a layer of flavor that bridges the gap between the rich scallops and the fresh sprouts, contributing to the dish’s Mediterranean flair.
  • Roasted garlic in olive oil (1/4 cup) – Garlic-infused olive oil brings a fragrant, savory element to the dish, with the garlic’s aromatic qualities infusing the oil with a subtle warmth and depth. The olive oil itself lends a fruity, slightly peppery base that enhances the overall richness and mouthfeel of the antipasti.

Use this Method

Sautee Scallops. In a large, heavy pan on high heat, melt ghee. Salt and pepper scallops. Add to pan and heat on high until well caramelized on each side, about 4 minutes a side.

Assemble. Add sunflower sprouts to three different plates or bowls. Add diced peppers and garlic to each bowl, and drizzle with the oil garlic was sitting in. When scallops are caramelized on each side, remove and immediately plate on top of greens. Serve immediately.

microgreens with red bell pepper and seared scallops

Tips and Tricks for Making Seafood Antipasti

Selecting Scallops: Choose fresh, high-quality scallops for the best flavor and texture. Look for scallops that are plump, moist, and have a sweet, briny aroma. Dry scallops, which haven’t been treated with chemicals, are preferable as they sear better and have a purer flavor.

Prepping Scallops: Pat the scallops dry with paper towels before cooking to ensure they sear beautifully. Any excess moisture on the surface will prevent them from getting that desirable golden crust.

Seasoning: Season the scallops with salt and freshly ground pepper just before cooking to enhance their natural flavors without drawing out moisture.

Searing Scallops: Ensure your pan is hot before adding the ghee. Once the ghee is shimmering, add the scallops, giving them enough space to sear rather than steam. Cook them for about 1-2 minutes on each side, or until they have a golden-brown crust and are just cooked through.

Resting: After searing, let the scallops rest for a few minutes. This brief resting period allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring each scallop is moist and tender.

Piquillo Peppers: Slice the piquillo peppers into strips or leave them whole if they are small. Their sweet, slightly tangy flavor complements the richness of the scallops beautifully.

Infusing Olive Oil: Gently warm the olive oil with garlic cloves to infuse it with garlic flavor. Avoid overheating to prevent the garlic from burning and turning bitter. Let it cool, then strain out the garlic cloves.

Acidity Balance: If desired, a light squeeze of fresh lemon juice or a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar over the dish before serving can brighten the flavors and cut through the richness.

Serving: Serve the antipasti at room temperature to ensure the flavors are at their best. Pair with crusty bread or crostini to complement the textures and flavors of the dish.

microgreens with red bell pepper and seared scallops

FAQs

What are the best scallops to use for antipasti?

For antipasti, sea scallops are the best choice due to their larger size and succulent texture. Look for “dry” scallops, which haven’t been soaked in preservatives, as they sear better and offer a more natural flavor.

How do I ensure my scallops get a good sear?

To achieve a good sear, make sure the scallops are patted dry and the pan is very hot before adding the ghee. Don’t overcrowd the pan, and avoid moving the scallops around once they’re in the pan until it’s time to flip them.

Can I use olive oil instead of ghee for searing the scallops?

While olive oil can be used, ghee is preferred for its higher smoke point and the rich, nutty flavor it imparts. If you choose to use olive oil, opt for one with a high smoke point to avoid smoking and burning.

What are piquillo peppers, and can I substitute them?

Piquillo peppers are sweet, mildly spicy red peppers from Spain, known for their rich flavor. If you can’t find piquillo peppers, you can substitute them with roasted red bell peppers for a similar sweetness and texture.

How do I infuse olive oil with garlic?

Gently heat olive oil with whole or slightly crushed garlic cloves in a saucepan over low heat. Let the garlic simmer gently in the oil to infuse it with flavor without burning the garlic, then cool and strain the oil.

What if I can’t find sunflower sprouts?

If sunflower sprouts are unavailable, you can substitute them with other sprouts or microgreens that offer a similar crunch and nutty flavor, such as pea shoots or radish sprouts.

Can this dish be made ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the components ahead of time, but it’s best to assemble the dish close to serving time to maintain the freshness and texture of the ingredients, particularly the scallops and sprouts.

How should I store leftovers?

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Note that the texture of the scallops may change upon reheating, so it’s best enjoyed fresh.

What to Serve with Seafood Salad

Fresh Baguette or Ciabatta: A crusty bread like baguette or ciabatta is perfect for soaking up the flavorful oils and vinegars often associated with antipasti.

Grilled Vegetables: Offer a variety of grilled vegetables such as zucchini, bell peppers, eggplant, and asparagus, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze to complement the scallops’ succulence.

Citrusy Arugula Salad: A simple arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette can add a fresh and peppery contrast to the rich flavors of the scallop antipasti.

Olive and Artichoke Tapenade: A tapenade made from olives, artichokes, capers, and fresh herbs can provide a tangy and savory counterpoint that pairs wonderfully with scallops.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes roasted with garlic and herbs until they burst, offer a sweet and tangy element that complements the delicate sweetness of scallops.

Aged Balsamic Vinegar: A drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar can add depth and a hint of sweetness to both the scallops and accompanying dishes.

Thinly Sliced Prosciutto: The saltiness and slight fattiness of prosciutto can enhance the scallop’s flavor and add a different texture to the antipasti spread.

Melon Balls: Fresh melon balls, particularly from cantaloupe or honeydew, can offer a refreshing and slightly sweet contrast to the savory antipasti.

Assorted Cheeses: Offer a selection of cheeses, such as mozzarella, burrata, or a mild goat cheese, to add creaminess and a mild tang.

Marinated Anchovies: For those who enjoy bold flavors, marinated anchovies can add a briny depth that complements the seafood theme.

Fresh Herb Focaccia: A herbed focaccia bread, perhaps with rosemary or thyme, can serve as a flavorful base for building bites that include scallop antipasti and other accompaniments.

Lemon Aioli or Herb-infused Olive Oil: A creamy lemon aioli for dipping, or a selection of herb-infused olive oils, can elevate the flavors of both the scallops and the vegetables.

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microgreens with red bell pepper and seared scallops

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Scallops on a plate with greens and peppers, served as an antipasti salad.
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Scallop Pepper Antipasti Salad

Gourmet scallop and pepper antipasti salad is effortlessly elegant – a five star dish anyone can make in under 15 minutes!
Course Salads
Cuisine American
Keyword easy dinner, healthy salad, lunch, main dish, pescatarian, salad, scallops, seafood salad
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 396kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 lb scallops patted dry
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups sunflower sprouts
  • 6 piquillo peppers drained of oil and diced
  • ¼ cup roasted garlic in olive oil

Instructions

  • In a large, heavy pan on high heat, melt ghee.
  • Salt and pepper scallops.
  • Add to pan and heat on high until well caramelized on each side, about 4 minutes a side.
  • Add sunflower sprouts to three different plates or bowls.
  • Add diced peppers and garlic to each bowl, and drizzle with the oil garlic was sitting in.
  • When scallops are caramelized on each side, remove and immediately plate on top of greens.
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 396kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 84mg | Sodium: 1114mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style. Courtney writes the popular creative lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs- a site devoted to delicious everyday recipes, home decor, crafts, DIY inspiration, and photography tips to help make your every day extraordinary.

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