My low-carb recipes focus on creating or adapting recipes that meet three criteria: 1) they must pack a lot of flavor, the more intense the better; 2) they must be adaptable to a low-carb or keto diet; and 3) they must be quick to prepare. These low-carb seared scallops and creamed spinach met all of the criteria in spades!
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The richness of large buttery scallops with a crisp sear is hard to beat. The perfect side dish is a robust creamed spinach seasoned lightly with caramelized onions, garlic, dry sherry, and heavy whipping cream.
Secrets for Perfectly Seared Scallops
Four tips will go a long way to getting seared scallops that can compete with a five-star restaurant:
- Get the scallops as dry as possible before seasoning or searing. This is particularly important if you are using frozen scallops. I live in Minnesota and buy my scallops from Costco. They are frozen and when thawed they are quite wet. It is important to dry them thoroughly with paper towels and let them air dry for a bit.
- Get the oil smoking hot in the skillet before placing the seasoned scallops in.
- Sear the first side for 1-2 minutes and don’t move them around while they are getting the sear.
- Cook them quickly. 1-2 minutes on the first side; flip and cook 1 more minute on the flip side.
Seasoning the Scallops
I love freshly ground fennel (along with salt and pepper) as my seasoning of choice.
If you don’t care for fennel, paprika is a nice spice. Just know that Hungarian paprika, Spanish paprika, smoked paprika, and hot paprika are all quite different. I like this mildly spiced smoked paprika.
Whatever spice blend you use make sure and add some salt to bring out the subtle flavors of the spice blend and the seafood.
Is Creamed Spinach Slow Carb?
The cream in the spinach does not follow a slow-carb regimen, but it is fine for low-carb or ketogenic lifestyles.
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Body and creator of the slow-carb diet, always tells you to experiment, and adding cream to otherwise slow-carb compliant ingredients is an experiment with dairy that works for many people.
My daughter did her study abroad in Spain, which gave my husband and me a great excuse for an overseas visit. My husband got hooked on creamed spinach dishes while there, so I’ve been re-creating creamed spinach in a variety of dishes ever since.
A slight variation on this dinner is this Spanish Creamed Spinach and Scallops, which seasons the spinach with smoked paprika and uses no wine or sherry. They are both delicious, creamy, and as easy as you can get!
For another uniquely delicious scallop dish, check out this Scallops in Grapefruit Butter recipe.
Grow Your Own Spinach or Other Vegetables
Did you know? You can easily grow your own veggies and herbs in a container (or of course in your garden). As a long-time gardener growing both ways, my post below can inspire you to try it yourself!
If you have never gardened, (or even if you have), growing vegetables in containers on your deck, balcony, or patio can be surprisingly fun, rewarding, and even meditative. You just may get hooked!
If you like my articles about cooking and gardening, subscribe to my weekly newsletter, where I share free recipes and gardening tutorials.
Low Carb Seared Scallops with Creamed Spinach
- 16 large sea scallops
- 4 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 3 tablespoons butter unsalted
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup dry sherry Or dry white wine
- 12 ounce spinach Frozen in bag
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ Tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp ground fennel optional: can use smoked paprika
- Drain the scallops, pat them as dry as you can with paper towels and set them aside to dry out further.16 large sea scallops
- Melt 1 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onions to the skillet and saute for about 5 min. Or until light brown and caramelized. Once onions are caramelized, add the minced garlic for about 30 seconds (do not burn).4 teaspoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons butter, 1 large onion, 3 cloves garlic
- Add wine to deglaze the skillet and cook over med-high for a minute or two to blend. Add the spinach, cream, salt and pepper and nutmeg to the skillet and cook over med-low heat for about 5 minutes or until thoroughly blended. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Fold in the cheese and remove from heat.1/2 cup dry sherry, 12 ounce spinach, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1/2 Tsp nutmeg, 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Pat the scallops dry again with paper towels, getting them as dry as you can to take a good sear. Season them with salt and pepper and ground fennel (sometimes I use smoked paprika).1 tsp ground fennel
- In a clean, large skillet,heat 2 Tbsp of oil over high heat until shimmering hot. Place half of the scallops in the skillet, starting with the 6:00 position and moving clockwise around the skillet. Cook them, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom (resist the temptation to pick them up and look or move them, they will come away from the pan easily once they are seared). Flip them (after about 2-3 minutes and continue to cook about 1 minute longer. Repeat with remaining scallops, adding (and heating)more oil to the skillet before searing if needed.
- Serve over the spinach and enjoy.