Perfectly seared scallops with caponata & creamy mascarpone…an irresistible dish that you simply won’t be able to get enough of. Buttery, golden scallops on top of creamy mascarpone cheese and topped with a tangy, sweet, bold eggplant caponata. Serve this as a very special appetizer or even as the main course. It’s absolutely decadent.
There’s something about the crisp, golden exterior of the scallops blended with the luxurious mascarpone cheese that creates a really mouthwatering combination. Then you’re hit with a punchy tang from the caponata – a traditional sweet and sour Sicilian recipe – and a toasty, buttery bite from the crushed pine nuts.
While you can traditionally eat caponata as a dish on its own, my take is a little bit more condensed (and intensely flavored) and much more suitable as a topping. It’s full of eggplant, celery, red onion, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, olives, currants, capers, crushed red pepper and parsley. It gets a littles sweetness from a drizzle of honey and a little tang from white wine vinegar. It’s an addicting condiment that I’m spooning over the scallops for a burst of contrasting flavor.
The combination of these three components – seared scallops with caponata & mascarpone – is one of my favorite things ever. I actually first made this recipe for the blog back in 2014 (and many of you have already made it!). I recently gave the post an update with some fresh photos because this recipe is truly amazing, and I wanted the photos to do it justice.
See all of my tips for perfectly seared scallops here.Print
Seared Scallops with Caponata & Mascarpone
seared scallops with a sweet and tangy eggplant caponata, creamy mascarpone, and toasted pine nuts
- olive oil
- 1 small eggplant, 1/4″ dice
- kosher salt
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup canned crushed tomatoes
- ¼ cup pitted and roughly chopped green olives
- ¼ cup dried currants
- 2 tbsp capers
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp honey
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 1 lb sea scallops, side muscle removed*
- kosher salt
- neutral-flavored oil
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 oz mascarpone cheese
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted + chopped
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, work in batches to pan-fry the eggplant (you don’t want to overcrowd the skillet). Cook until golden, slightly crisp and tender, stirring often. Season each batch of eggplant with a pinch of salt and transfer to a plate when done.
- Add a little bit more olive oil to the skillet. Add the celery and red onion. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until the vegetables have softened and slightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute or so.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and let simmer for about 5 minutes before stirring in the olives, currants, capers, white wine vinegar, honey, and crushed red pepper. Turn the heat down to low and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 10 more minutes.
- Stir in the eggplant and heat through. Stir in the fresh parsley at the very end. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Season well with a pinch of salt.
- Heat a large stainless steel pan over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom. When the oil is sizzling hot, add the scallops (work in batches if needed; you don’t want to overcrowd the pan). Sear on one side until a golden crust has formed, about 3 minutes.
- Turn the scallops over and add the butter to the pan. Finish cooking while spooning the butter on top of the scallops, about another 2 minutes or so.
- Spread the mascarpone cheese onto a large plate. Spoon the caponata over top. Arrange the scallops over the caponata. Drizzle any melted butter from the pan over top. Garnish with the toasted pine nuts.
*Some of the scallops will have a tough, outer side muscle, so go through each one before cooking them. You can easily remove the muscle by peeling it off.