Seared Scallops with Polenta


A caper-dotted tomato sauce and seared scallops add major umami to creamy polenta in this 30-minute seafood dinner.

Seared Scallops with Polenta
Photo: Caitlin Bensel
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

Scallops are always impressive yet surprisingly easy to cook at home. All you need is a very hot skillet and a bit of oil. And the best part is that they cook in under five minutes! Cook your scallops at the last minute so they're hot and ready as soon as your creamy polenta and sauce are. This tomato sauce is flavored with fresh oregano and speckled with briny capers. And instant polenta makes a fast and hearty base for this Italian-style weeknight dinner.


  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

  • .50 cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 onion)

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 2 sprigs oregano, plus finely chopped oregano for serving

  • 1 15-oz. can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons drained nonpareil capers

  • 1 cup uncooked instant polenta

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter

  • 2 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 16 sea scallops, patted dry


  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until onion softens slightly, about 3 minutes. Add oregano sprigs; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.

  2. Stir in tomatoes and capers. Bring to a vigorous simmer over medium. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove oregano sprigs, transfer sauce to a small bowl, and cover to keep warm. Wipe skillet clean.

  3. Meanwhile, bring 4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to low; simmer, whisking, until thickened and creamy, about 3 minutes. Whisk in butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

  4. Sprinkle tops of scallops with remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Add 1 tablespoon oil to cleaned skillet and heat over medium-high. Add half of scallops; cook, undisturbed, until edges are browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip scallops and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and scallops.

  5. Stir 1 to 2 tablespoons water into polenta to loosen, if necessary. Serve polenta topped with tomato sauce, scallops, and chopped oregano.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

503 Calories
33g Fat
38g Carbs
13g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 503
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 45mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 13g

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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