Pan-Fried Sea Scallops with Caponata


This luxurious eggplant based relish is a delicious accompaniment to a wide range of meats and fish. Here, the caponata is topped with seared scallops. Serve warm or at room temperature with torn basil throughout. Slideshow:  More Scallop Recipes 

Pan-Fried Sea Scallops with Caponata
Photo: © Sarah Bolla
Total Time:
40 mins
4 to 6


  • 1 pound eggplant

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 6 celery stalks, peeled and sliced on a diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 large red onion, cut into 1-inch thin pieces

  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 1/4 cup capers in salt

  • 1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes—cut into 1-inch pieces, sauce reserved

  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated cane sugar

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • 12 sea scallops, about 1 pound

  • 8 basil leaves, roughly chopped


  1. Peel the eggplant and cut into 1-inch pieces. Heat a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with half of the extra virgin olive oil; add half of the eggplant and season with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt. Fry the eggplant cubes in two batches until golden brown, adding the second addition of olive oil and salt with the second batch. Remove from the oil and set aside.

  2. Using the same pan, add the celery, red onion, garlic and capers and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium to low heat until vegetables have softened and look glossy, about 10 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and sugar to the pan and stir to combine. Fold in the cooked eggplant and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. Add the vinegar to the mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  3. Season the scallops with salt and pepper, add to a skillet and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the scallops, and continue cooking for another 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and serve with the caponata. Garnish with chopped basil and serve.

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