Wilted Spinach, Watercress, and Orange Salad (with Pan-Seared Scallops)

Posted in food, home cooking at 11:41 pm by wingerz


This recipe holds a special place in my heart because it was on the very first ATK episode that I ever watched. I finally got around to making it Sunday evening.

4 ounces baby spinach (about 5 1/3 cups lightly packed)
4 ounces watercress (or arugula), washed, dried, and stemmed (about 4 cups lightly packed)
3/4 cup sliced almonds

1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops , (16 – 24 scallops) (see note), tendons removed
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium red onion , sliced thin
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves , minced
Table salt
2 large oranges , cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1. For the Salad: Toss the spinach and watercress together in a large bowl; set aside.

2. Toast the almonds in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes; transfer them to the bowl with the greens. Wipe out the skillet using a wad of paper towels.

3.For the Scallops: Place the scallops on a paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet; season the scallops with salt and pepper. Lay a single layer of paper towels over the scallops; set aside.

4. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to the empty skillet and return to high heat until just smoking. Meanwhile, press the paper towel flush to the scallops to dry. Add half of the scallops, dry-side facing down, and cook until evenly golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the scallops, browned side facing up, to a large plate; set aside. Wipe out the skillet using a wad of paper towels. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the remaining scallops. Once the first side is golden, turn the heat to mediium, turn the scallops over with tongs, and return the first batch of scallops to the pan, golden side facing up. Cook until the sides on all the scallops have firmed up and all but the middle third of each scallop is opaque, 30 to 60 seconds longer. Transfer all the scallops to a large plate; set aside.

5. For the Dressing: Wipe the skillet clean with a wad of paper towels. Add the olive oil, onion, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the skillet and return to medium-high heat; cook until the onions are slightly softened, about 1 minute. Add the oranges and vinegar to the pan and swirl to incorporate. Remove from the heat.

6. To Finish the Salad: Pour the warm dressing over the salad mixture and gently toss to wilt. Divide the spinach salad among four plates and arrange the scallops on top. Serve immediately.

The dressing was delicious – very light and flavorful, and similar to (but better than) dressing I once made for a shrimp and avocado salad. The olive oil, sherry vinegar, orange, and red onion combination is wonderful – every element is quite distinct and they blend nicely. Unfortunately, the scallops were my least favorite part of the salad. They browned well and tasted fine, but I felt like they got in the way of the rest of the flavors.

I made the salad again tonight with spinach and romaine lettuce, leaving out the scallops. I added a bit of sesame oil to add a slightly Asian touch to it (I bet some scallions would have been nice too). Tonight’s oranges were not as juicy and sweet and I think that detracted a bit from the flavor. But cutting the scallops out makes this an extremely simple dish that can be prepared quickly.


  1. ~wingerz » Christmas Feast said,

    December 28, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    […] Wilted spinach, watercress, and orange salad. My favorite salad, and everyone else liked it too. […]

  2. wing’s food blog » Blog Archive » christmas eve dinner said,

    January 14, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    […] then my brother made his favorite salad. it is a really great salad. it has spinach and watercress, roasted almonds, and then a warm orange, red onion, and sherry vinegar dressing. […]

  3. ~wingerz » Oranges and asparagus said,

    April 12, 2010 at 12:51 am

    […] Two of my favorite winter ingredients, together at last: juicy oranges and sweet, tender asparagus. The sauce is pretty similar to my favorite salad dressing ever (recipe). […]

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