Seared Scallops with Whipped Cauliflower, Olives, and Almonds

A plate of seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with a really simple olive topping and butter toasted almonds. Just as flavorful as it is beautiful, it’s a great dish to serve at your next dinner party!

a plate of seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with olives and toasted almonds

seared scallops in a skillet with lemon butter sauce

seared scallops with whipped cauliflower – the inspiration

A beautiful plate of seared scallops is one of my favorite things to create in the kitchen. While any ingredient can be seen as a blank canvas, scallops give me the most inspiration when coming up with unique ways to serve them.

I’ve served them over corn with bacon & chimichurri, on top of mascarpone with a fresh cucumber salad, and in a wintery combo of wilted greens, walnuts, and capers.

This combination of whipped cauliflower, olives, and almonds is a new favorite – the unique mix of textures and flavors is really something special.

cauliflower in a skillet cooking with cream and spinach

a plate of seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with olives and toasted almonds

I don’t typically change my method for cooking scallops – always in a really hot pan for a hard sear on one side, and then just another minute or so of cooking on the other side. Scallops become rubbery when overcooked, and they really don’t need much time at all.

Then, you’ll remove the scallops from the skillet, pour out the oil, and make a quick butter sauce. With a little honey for sweetness and lemon juice for acidity, the sauce simmers for just a couple of minutes before serving.

a plate of seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with olives and toasted almonds

The star of this dish is the silky-smooth whipped cauliflower, which is flavored with basil to give it a stunning green tint. The process starts on the stovetop, essentially simmering the cauliflower in cream with simple aromatics. Once the cauliflower is tender, you’ll stir in the basil and blend it until really, really creamy.

I like to do this in a high-powered blender instead of a food processor. Blending it will incorporate air and results in a really light, incredibly airy texture.

The final touches are the olives and almonds. The olives are mixed with a little lemon zest and basil to create a very simple, tangy topping. And then the almonds get toasted in butter for a deeply rich bite.


Seared Scallops with Whipped Cauliflower, Olives, and Almonds

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seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with a brown butter lemon sauce, a really simple castelvetrano olive topping, and butter toasted almonds

servings: 4



Whipped Cauliflower

  • olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 (1 ¼ lb) head of cauliflower, trimmed + cut into florets*
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves

Olive Topping

  • ½ cup diced castelvetrano olives
  • 2 tbsp chiffonade (thinly sliced) fresh basil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest

Toasted Almonds & Seared Scallops

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • neutral oil, as needed
  • 1 lb sea scallops, side muscle removed
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • flaky sea salt


  1. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and let them sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
  2. For the whipped cauliflower, heat a 10” stainless steel skillet (with 2-3” sides) over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Once hot, add the onion and a good pinch of salt. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets, heavy cream, and a few cracks of black pepper. Stir well and bring the cream to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Gently simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender.
  4. Meanwhile, for the olive topping, combine the olives, basil, lemon zest, and a drizzle of olive oil in a small bowl. Toss to combine and set aside.
  5. For the almonds & scallops, heat a 12” stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of butter. Once melted, add the almonds. Toast for just a couple of minutes until golden brown, stirring often (watch closely so they don’t burn). Transfer the almonds to a plate and season with a pinch of salt.
  6. Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add enough neutral oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Once hot, place half of the scallops into the skillet. Cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes until a golden crust forms. Flip the scallops and cook for just another minute or so. Transfer them to a plate and repeat with the remaining scallops.
  7. Carefully pour the oil out of the skillet. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Once melted, whisk in the honey and lemon juice. Simmer for 2 minutes or so.
  8. Meanwhile, finish the cauliflower by stirring in the basil. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend for 90 seconds until creamy. Season with salt to taste.
  9. Add the scallops to the sauce. Plate the dish by spreading the whipped cauliflower onto a plate. Arrange the scallops with a drizzle of sauce. Add the olives and almonds over top. Finish with flaky sea salt and cracked black pepper.


The total weight of cauliflower florets after trimming & cutting the head of cauliflower should roughly be 12 ounces.

a plate of seared scallops over whipped cauliflower with olives and toasted almonds

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