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Smoky Seared Scallops with Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots + Popped Sorghum

Fresh orange juice and zest brighten up this colorful seafood dish.

Have you ever popped sorghum? It’s a grain that can be popped on the stovetop or in the microwave just like popcorn, only waaaay more adorable.

I first tried this method almost a year ago and fell in love with these tiny little puffs.

Smoky Seared Scallops With Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots + Popped Sorghum

My husband and I were talking about scallops the other day and I realized that I totally forgot to post this recipe!

I can’t believe it ended up on my “to write up” list for so long, but thankfully I take copious notes in my journal as I’m cooking.

This dish is playful yet elegant, and is much easier than it looks to pull off.

Smoky Seared Scallops With Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots + Popped Sorghum

You can pop the sorghum ahead of time and seal it in an airtight container. Or do it while your oven preheats to roast the veggies (500°F takes quite a while!).

I picked up this gorgeous mix of rainbow carrots from Trader Joe’s and paired it with some fennel. These 2 types of veggies both get nice and sweet and caramelized in the oven. Those dark brown bits are extra tasty!

Once they come out, toss ’em with a little freshly squeezed orange juice, quickly sear your scallops and dinner is served!

Smoky Seared Scallops With Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots + Popped Sorghum

I have an incredible backlog of other recipes that I’m itchin’ to share with you – guess it’s better to have more to work with than less, right?

I’m just glad to finally share this beauty with you – it’s light and refreshing and a total showstopper at the dinner table.

By the way, the second installment of my newsletter will be heading out soon! You can check out the first one here, and if you enjoy what you see, please subscribe!

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A plate of seared scallops with roasted vegetables and popped sorghum.

Smoky Seared Scallops with Roasted Fennel, Rainbow Carrots + Popped Sorghum

  • Author: Big Flavors from a Tiny Kitchen - Ashley Covelli
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 2 Servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop/Oven
  • Cuisine: Italian


Fresh orange juice and zest brighten up this colorful seafood dish.


  • 1/4 cup sorghum
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, diced large (about 2 cups)
  • 5 large carrots, cut 1/2-inch thick on a bias (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 6 large scallops
  • Smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • Fennel fronds, for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 500°F.
  2. Heat a stainless steel pot with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add sorghum to the pan and quickly cover with lid. Cook, shaking the pot frequently, until the grains begin to pop. Once there are less than 10 seconds between pops, remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Place fennel and carrots on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Roast vegetables in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until browned and tender. Drizzle orange juice over the freshly roasted vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper if needed, and set aside.
  4. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel, then season both sides of each with salt, pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika.
  5. Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat in a medium, non-stick skillet. Once hot, place scallops in the skillet, making sure they aren’t touching each other, and sear for about 90 seconds. Flip scallops and cook for another 90 seconds. You’re looking for them to have a golden brown crust on both sides, but still be tender and translucent on the inside. Remove from the skillet onto a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. To serve, divide the roasted vegetables between 2 plates. Place 3 scallops on top of each plate and garnish with popped sorghum, orange zest and fennel fronds.


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 419
  • Sugar: 11.4 g
  • Sodium: 490.9 mg
  • Fat: 22.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 42.7 g
  • Fiber: 8.5 g
  • Protein: 15.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 21.6 mg

Keywords: sorghum, scallops, fennel, roasted carrots

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Ashley Covelli is a food photographer, recipe developer, and culinary instructor based in Ossining, New York. She loves helping people become enthusiastic and adventurous in the kitchen so that they can build skills and confidence to cook for themselves and their loved ones. She can almost always be found with at least 3 different beverages within arm's reach.


  • Lucy @ cheatingvegan.com

    OMG this looks gourmet! I’m actually terrified of searing scallops at home, but this just might give me the courage to try…

    • BigFlavorsFromATinyKitchen

      Don’t be scared! There are a few things that will help you get a beautiful sear: I like to take them out of the fridge for a few minutes before cooking with them to take the chill off. Take the time to pat your scallops dry really well before seasoning them, and make sure your pan is nice and hot before adding them to ensure sure you get that beautiful color. They really only need about 90 seconds per side. You can always cut into one after to see if it’s nice and translucent on the inside to make sure you don’t accidentally overcook them.

      Good luck! I’d love to hear how it works out for you!

  • Laura @MotherWouldKnow

    I adore seared scallops and fennel is one of my favorite vegetables. But what really got me in this recipe is the popped sorghum – what ?!??!! That is so totally crazy and fun – can’t wait to try it.

  • Carol Borchardt

    I LOVE sea scallops and the combination of flavors in this dish sound divine!! Never knew about popping sorghum–love that!

  • Katie Nunes

    This was delicious! I will admit that I did not have nor did I source any sorghum, so there wasn’t any cuteness in my dish, but it was very tasty, and I will make it again. 90 seconds per side was perfect for the scallops and the vegetables were perfectly cooked as well. Oh, and I went with four scallops for each of us. Thanks!

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