Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Hearts and Vermouth Sauce

Vermouth — wine “aromatized” with botanicals — spikes the sauce for sea scallops and artichoke hearts in this recipe.

When you’re in a hurry, fish or seafood is the ideal main ingredient. In virtually all its iterations, seafood wants to be cooked quickly or it will dry out or, in the case of shellfish, become tough and overly chewy. Wine or fortified wines are common additions to seafood preparations.

What is Vermouth?

Vermouth is a fortified “aromatized” wine. This means that the wine is macerated with a secret formula of as many as 50 different plants, barks, seeds and fruit peels, collectively known as botanicals. Each maker’s distinct formula of botanicals imbues their vermouth with its unique flavor and aroma.

Some specific vermouth formulas are also no longer sold under the name vermouth, but rather under special names, e.g. DuBonnet, Lillet, Campari, Punt e Mes and Cynar. Here’s more on the French origin of vermouth and how it is made.

You may know vermouth primarily from martinis, but you can cook with vermouth in the same preparations where you might use white wine. The botanicals in the vermouth add another layer of flavor to whatever you’re cooking.


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans quartered artichoke hearts in water, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 16 sea scallops, drained and trimmed
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth


  1. In a large nonstick skillet over medium high flame, add 2 tbsp olive oil and the chopped shallots to the pan. Sweat the shallots about a minute and toss in the artichoke hearts long enough to heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and capers. Transfer the mixture to a serving dish.
  2. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Wipe out the same pan and raise the flame a bit. When the pan is very hot, add 1 tbsp olive oil pan and immediately place the scallops in the pan. Sear the scallops until nicely caramelized, about 2 minutes on both sides. Add the vermouth and cook out the alcohol, 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange the scallops in vermouth over top of the artichokes and serve.

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9 thoughts on “Seared Sea Scallops with Artichoke Hearts and Vermouth Sauce

  1. Mary Delgado

    This recipe is perfect, delicious yet simple. I did get spattered by the olive oil- butter grease even though I patted the scallops dry so watch out as you place them in the pan.

  2. Auntie Roux

    I made this with pretty cold temperature scallops so I left it longer than a minute and a half each side and it still turned out amazing. Such a simple and delicious recipe!

  3. Maria Clark

    Be sure NOT to cook longer than 90 seconds. I had silver dollar size scallops so thought I had to cook a little longer. I cooked them 2-2 1/2″ and they were chewy. Ruined an expensive batch of wild scallops!! Recipe is fine. This was my own fault.

  4. Ann Hedrick Wild

    Easy, fabulous recipe. Didn’t have unsalted butter so used butter with salt but the outcome was delicious. I’ve always been intimidated to pan sear scallops but no longer. Thank Alton — this maybe may new go to meal.

  5. Victor Edinian

    Just delicious and so easy. I, too, didn’t understand the “dry” part, so I patted my previously frozen scallops dry and went from there.

  6. Anne Ryan Feinroth

    Tried this recipe out first time and they turned out PERFECT!! I buy mine FRESH from the store and let them sit in the Frig to thaw out, and ready to cook the next day. Frozen isn’t as good as FRESH one are.

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