Gwyneth Paltrow's seared scallops with watercress and asparagus

We know scallops intimidate a lot of cooks, but they’re actually one of the easiest and quickest types of seafood to prepare.

The most important things to remember are to get the skillet nice and hot, to make sure the scallops are dry so they sear rather than steam, and to not touch them until they’ve developed a nice crust on one side and are almost cooked through.

Here we pair them with a warm spring salad and a quick brown butter pan sauce—make this for someone you’re trying to impress, or quarter the recipe and treat yourself to a restaurant-quality weeknight feast. You deserve it—you made perfectly cooked scallops! A bonus is that this is a gluten-free recipe.

Recipe from It’s All Easy: Delicious Weekday Recipes for the Super-Busy Home Cook by Gwyneth Paltrow (RRP $45), published by Hachette Australia.

Ingredients:

16 diver scallops
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1 small lemon
A splash of champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
4 tablespoons olive oil
12 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
1 bunch of watercress, cleaned and dried
A large handful of sugar snap peas, cut into 1cm slices (about 1 cup)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)

Directions:

1. Remove the scallops from the fridge, use a paper towel to dry them very well, and season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Mix the lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the bottom of a large bowl.

3. Use a peeler to shave 4 of the asparagus spears and add them to the bowl along with the watercress. Cut the remaining 8 asparagus spears into ½-inch pieces and set aside.

4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the snap peas, and the asparagus pieces, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, or until just barely cooked. Add to the bowl with the watercress and shaved asparagus.

5. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the sauté pan, then add the scallops, leaving them to sear on one side, undisturbed, until very crispy and almost cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the scallops, then reduce the heat to low and add the butter. The butter will immediately sizzle and start to turn brown. Turn off the heat (the residual heat will finish cooking the scallops).

6. Toss the watercress-asparagus salad to combine well. Divide the salad among four plates (or arrange it on one platter), arrange the cooked scallops on top of the salad, and pour the brown butter over. Garnish with a little coarse sea salt and serve with lemon wedges on the side, if desired.