Scallops are one of my absolute favorite seafoods and the only thing I hate about them is that they are so expensive. Luckily I was able to find these quite large ones for about $1 each which I felt was a good deal. When I make seared scallops I don’t want to pair them with anything overpowering so I usually just serve them atop a pasta with a light lemon/caper/shallot sauce. This seared scallops with lemon caper pasta is a quick yet impressively delicious meal.
Scallops are intimidating for many people and it’s probably because they are a pretty finicky meat. The best trick though is to make sure the surface area of the meat is as dry as possible so you can create a nice crust. I just keep patting them down with paper towels until they are dry to the touch (you will use a lot of paper towels).
While the scallops are drying out I start on the pasta. Nothing in this recipe takes that long so you can go from nothing to a beautiful plate of tasty seared scallops with lemon caper pasta in under 20 minutes. In fact, the ingredients are pretty simple as well.
This recipe serves two people but it is easily scale-able. I start by sauteing one large chopped shallot in a bit of olive oil. I do this on a fairly low heat just enough for them to soften and release their sweetness, but not enough to grill or caramelize them.
Next I add a great big amount of butter and some lemon juice. At this point I move to a whisk so I can sort of emulsify the butter (which is a fat) and the lemon juice (which is an acid). And that’s pretty much all their is to it. Of course I season with a bit of salt and freshly cracked black pepper, but once the butter is melted and everything is somewhat homogeneous, you can whisk in a couple tablespoons of the boiled salted pasta water and then drop in the noodles.
Once I drop in the pasta I also add a handful of capers. Then just toss the pan around and set aside. The scallops take less than 5 minutes, but I still put a lid on the pan to keep some of the heat in so the pasta doesn’t go cold.
How To Sear Scallops
The thing with scallops is you should treat them a bit like steak. You want the surface to be very dry, as mentioned before, and you want to cook them on high heat. For this I’m using a neutral oil since it has a high smoke point. To test if the oil is ready, just put the tip of a wooden spoon in the oil and if you see bubbles form, your oil is hot enough.
Next place the scallops with the driest side directly into the oil. Just like with a steak, do not touch the scallops while they are searing. I do them for 2 minutes on one side, and then flip and do one minute on the other. This will create a nice crust and perfectly cooked scallop every time.
When the scallops are done searing move them to a small plate and begin to plate your pasta. As mentioned before this recipe is for 2 people, which means about 200 grams of dry pasta to start. I just take half of the pasta from the pan, swirl it on a plate, and place five scallops nestled into the pasta.
Garnish with a bit of rough chopped or ripped parsley and enjoy! And remember, if you don’t like cooked scallops, they can also be eaten raw like in my popular scallop crudo recipe!
Seared Scallops with lemon caper pasta
- 200 grams Pasta I used Bucatini, but you can use whatever pasta you prefer, the focus is on the scallops.
- 10 large Scallops patted dry on the surface
- 1 large Shallot chopped
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 2 tbsp Capers
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 tsp Salt plus more to salt the pasta water
- 1 tsp Black Pepper freshly cracked
- 1 bunch Parsley roughly chopped/ripped
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Neutral Oil for the scallops
- In a pan add water and salt and set to a boil. When boiling add the pasta and cook until al dente.
- In a smaller pan add the olive oil and begin to saute the shallot on low heat. When they are translucent add in the butter and lemon juice and whisk everything together. Add the salt and pepper and continue to whisk to emulsify.
- When the pasta is done, whisk in a tablespoon or two of the pasta water, and then add the drained pasta directly into the sauce pan. Add the capers and toss everything around. Put a lid on the pan and set aside.
- In another small pan add some neutral oil and turn the heat on max. Test if the oil is hot enough by putting the tip of a wooden spoon in. If it bubbles your oil is good.
- Take your scallops and place the driest side directly onto the pan. Wait two minutes, then flip and sear for another minute. Remove from the pan.
- Add the pasta to a plate and nestle 5 scallops right onto the pasta. Garnish with some chopped or ripped parsley, serve, and enjoy!
Seared Scallops With Lemon Caper Pasta
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