Bacon wrapped scallops are one of those dishes almost everyone goes for, even people who aren’t big fans of other shellfish or seafood. And no one really thinks of as special diet food, but as long as you use a compliant bacon they work for AIP and a variety of other dietary needs! You can serve them as an appetizer or a main course; at a cocktail party as fancy finger food or plated beautifully with this simple basil sauce at the base as pictured.
Why eat scallops?
Scallops are a good source of high quality protein and though they are low in fat overall, the fat they do contain is primarily omega 3 fatty acids, which are critical for overall immune health. They are also a good source of a number of critical minerals for immune system function, including selenium (approximately 40% of daily need), phosphorus (34%), and zinc (20%), as well as the blood-building minerals – iron (17%) and copper (15%) – and the bone-building minerals – calcium (12%) and magnesium (14%) (source).
They also provide a considerable amount of vitamin B12, with some analyses even going as high as 100% of the average person’s daily need. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal derived foods, so a person who is not eating meat needs to take this nutrient into consideration. I’ve worked with some clients who desired to follow a plant-based diet for philosophical reasons, but were willing to consume scallops and other bivalve mollusks like oysters or clams because these living creatures lack a central nervous system.
What kind of bacon is AIP-compliant?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the AIP world, I think! And the one that seems to generate the most amount of confusion and misconception.
When it comes to bacon, the two most critical things that make it safe for a person in the AIP elimination phase are:
- Can you verify it is grain free (most critically, gluten free)?
- Can you verify it is nightshade free?
The most common ingredients that would make you unable to answer yes to both of those questions are vinegar and spices. If you see either of those words and there is no additional information qualifying those ingredients, then you need to assume that one is not compliant.
Beyond that, it is up to you. Personally, I don’t care if sugar was used in the curing process and I’m not a stickler about the curing agent being natural or synthetic (for more on the myth of “uncured” bacon, read this article). I prefer to consume bacon made from pasture raised pigs, so I usually buy it from a local farmer.
AIP Reintroduction Ideas
This recipe as written is compliant with the elimination phase or the autoimmune protocol (AIP), but you can easily adapt if you are ready to expand your horizons. Here are just a few ideas…
- Use melted ghee (stage 1) or butter (stage 2) instead of olive oil in step 2.
- Season scallops with 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper (stage 1) in step 2.
- Add a 1/4 cup of pine nuts (stage 2) to sauce in step 6 to make the basil sauce more like a pesto.
- Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese (stage 2) in step 7.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon paprika (stage 3) or cayenne pepper (stage 4) in step 2.
Do you need a refresher on the reintroduction stages and the best way to test these foods? Check out this blog post by my friend and mentor Angie Alt – Reintroductions on AIP: The Definitive Guide.
Bacon Wrapped Scallops Recipe
- 1 pound large sea scallops
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 8 bacon slices
- ½ cup fresh basil leaves
- lemon wedges for serving
- Preheat oven broiler and arrange rack to be about 4 inches below heat source.
- Drizzle scallops with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder. Set aside.
- Cook bacon in skillet until just done enough to be somewhat crisp, but still pliable. Remove bacon from skillet and reserve bacon fat for use in making the basil sauce.
- Cut each piece of bacon in half so it is just large enough to wrap around a scallop once and then use toothpicks to secure.
- Arrange bacon wrapped scallops in a single layer on a baking sheet or broiler pan. Put in oven and broil for 3 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully flip each scallop and return to broil for another 3 minutes.
- Make sauce by combining reserved bacon fat and fresh basil leaves in a small food processor or high speed blender.
- Serve scallops with lemon wedges and sauce on the side, or drizzled over top, or plated as pictured.
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