Scallops with Pesto, Corn, and Tomatoes

Summer fresh herbs and vegetables turn this weeknight meal into a celebration of flavor.

Scallops with Pesto, Corn, and Tomatoes
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Ruth Blackburn; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis
Active Time:
35 mins
Total Time:
35 mins

There are plenty of things to love about Southern summers, but high on our list are the fresh corn and the juicy, flavorful tomatoes. This recipe makes the most of both of these favorite summertime ingredients, which you can shop for at your local farmer's market.

Our recipe for Scallops with Pesto, Corn, and Tomatoes combines the best produce the season has to offer in one spectacular dish. In this quick seafood supper, seared scallops rest on a bed of sautéed corn, tossed with pesto and burst cherry tomatoes. For a big boost of flavor, the corn cooks in rendered bacon fat.

The real trick of this recipe is to get the perfect sear on your scallops; here's how it's done:

Dry the scallops thoroughly before adding to a hot pan. Cook the scallops undisturbed until the edges are brown. Moving the scallops around in the pan too much will sabotage your sear, preventing them from gaining a lovely golden exterior. Flip them only once, and cook until the centers feel firm.


  • 2 thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon slices, chopped (about ½ cup)

  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 large ears)

  • 2 cups multicolored cherry tomatoes (about 12 oz.), halved

  • ¼ cup jarred refrigerated basil pesto

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 16 large sea scallops, patted dry and side muscle removed and discarded

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)


  1. Cook bacon in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crispy, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Add corn kernels; cook, stirring often, until tender-crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in cherry tomatoes, basil pesto, pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Transfer to a medium bowl; cover to keep warm. Wipe skillet clean.

  2. Sprinkle scallops evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in skillet over medium-high. Add half of the scallops, and press gently using a spatula. Cook, undisturbed, until edges are browned, about 3 minutes. Flip; cook until firm to touch and center is slightly translucent, about 30 seconds, or to desired level of doneness. Transfer to a plate. Wipe skillet clean; repeat with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and scallops.

  3. Divide corn mixture among 4 bowls; top with scallops and bacon. Add basil (if desired).

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