Sick of chicken breast on everything? Scallops are the lean protein you need to add to your diet.

By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN

Grilled chicken breast gets all the attention when it comes to lean protein, but it's not without its downsides. Chicken is actually pretty easy to screw up and can be really, really, boring. My personal go-to when I want to step things is pan-seared scallops. A serving of sea scallops (about three or four) is only about 100 calories, and it's high in protein and low in fat. Scallops are also a great source of vitamin B12, iron, and zinc. (Related: 12 Meal Prep Ideas That Aren't Sad Chicken and Rice)

You can buy scallops fresh or frozen. Thaw frozen scallops in a sealed ziplock bag in the fridge for four to six hours. Or speed up the process by placing the bag in a bowl of cold water in the fridge. Run under cold water to rinse and pat completely dry with a paper towel prior to cooking. (Related: Citrus Sea Scallops for a Healthy Date-Night Dinner In)

Scallops are really fast to cook. This restaurant-worthy dish with smashed red lentils and a side of greens and tomatoes takes just a few minutes to prepare. In less than half an hour, you can have a high-protein, high-fiber, gluten-free dinner on the table. It's perfect for those post-workout nights when you want dinner fast, but you're feeling more adult than a frozen chicken burrito.

Photo: Jessica Cording Nutrition

Pan-Seared Scallops with Red Lentils and Arugula

Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 pound wild sea scallops
  • Cooking spray or 2 teaspoons of butter or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine


  1. Pour lentils and water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cover pot and simmer lentils until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir every few minutes to prevent sticking. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, toss together arugula and cherry tomatoes with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil/butter in a skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
  4. Add scallops to pan. Cook until beginning to brown (usually ~2 to 3 minutes).
  5. Turn over and cook until browned on the other side (another ~2 to 3 minutes) and scallops are just barely opaque in the center. Splash with wine to deglaze pan.
  6. Place scallops over red lentils to serve immediately.

Nutrition information per serving (via USDA supertracker): 368 calories; 25g protein; 34g carbs; 12g fiber; 15g total fat (2g sat fat)