This salad is full of the flavors I grew up with. I’ve mentioned before, I’m an Armenian girl who grew up eating a lot of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food. One bite of this salad and I feel like I’m back in my Mom’s kitchen. The flavors of the Feta cheese, Kalamata olives and red onion are bold, tangy and salty. They are balanced by some of the other ingredients, like the creamy nuttiness of the chickpeas, the crunch of the pita chips and the brightness of the lemon zest. Speaking of lemon…this dressing is based on the dressing my Mom always made. It’s full of fresh lemon juice and just a hint of cumin and oregano.
The scallops are my addition to this familiar salad. I love scallops. They are tender, buttery and have such a mild flavor, they go so well with this bold salad. This is my favorite way to eat them…seared. And I think I’ve got the technique down. It’s really easy. There are just a few things to keep in mind when searing scallops. I’ll take you through the steps in the recipe below.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad with Seared Scallops
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
about 2 handfuls of mixed greens
1/2 cup grape tomatoes
1/2 cup large seedless cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
about 4 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1 1/2 cups broken pita chips
juice of one lemon (about 1/3 cup)
zest of half of a lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (crumbled between your fingers)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 pound sea scallops
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
kosher salt and pepper
Assemble and divide the salad ingredients on four dinner plates. Mix the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside while you prepare the scallops.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium high heat. Most store bought scallops are stored in a liquid that keeps them fresh. Ask if you are unsure. If they are, you should give them a bit of a rinse under cold water. Pat dry your scallops with paper towels whether you’ve rinsed them or not. You want them to be dry. Next, you want to pull of the little tab of muscle that most of them have. It can get tough once cooked. Lay the scallops out and very lightly sprinkle them with kosher salt and some black pepper on both sides. Add the olive oil and the butter to the pan. Once the butter has melted add the scallops. You will probably have to do this in two batches. A crowded pan won’t give you a nice sear. Once you’ve placed them in the pan…do not move them at all for at least 2 minutes, but not much more than that. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. They should be golden.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of dressing on each salad. Top each salad off with some scallops. I like to zest some additional lemon zest from the remaining lemon half over the top of each salad.
- If you are concerned about buying scallops stored in liquid, buy them from a fish monger and ask for “dry packed” scallops.
- One easy way to chop the romaine into small pieces is to cut the whole head in half lengthwise, then cut each half once more. Rinse the sections, then cut across each section into small pieces.
- I use less salt in the dressing than I normally would because so many elements in the salad are pretty salty. Adjust to your own taste.