Perfect pan-seared scallops and fresh pasta are ready in under 10-minutes! What’s the secret to achieving that beautiful brown sear? Well, I’m about to tell you!
Scallops are one of my favorite types of seafood. They have a very light, almost sweet, flavor all their own but also very similar in texture and sweetness to lobster. Pan searing scallops is the best cooking method to coax out even more flavor. The most important factor here, however, is to not overcook them. Overcooking sea scallops causes the meat to become tough and rubbery.
Ten minutes before searing your sea scallops set them out at room temperature on a plate lined with paper towels, then cover the top with another layer of paper towels and pat them dry. If the scallops are at all moist, you will not get a good sear on them; they will steam in their juices instead of sear.
Lightly coat the pan with oil and heat it over high heat until it is almost smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper just as you are ready to start cooking, and then place the seasoned side down into the oil. Cook the scallops in two batches so to not overcrowd the pan. Start at 12 o’clock when adding your first scallop to the pan. Then work around the pan clockwise adding each new scallop. This gives you a place to start when you flip them to the next side; start again at 12 o’clock.
Toss the pasta with olive oil and reserved cooking liquid. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese.
Lemon and garlic pasta with pan-seared scallops
Perfect pan-seared scallops and fresh pasta are ready in under 10-minutes! What's the secret to achieving that beautiful brown sear? Well, I'm about to tell you!
- 1 large lemon, grated for zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound (about 16) large sea scallops [See Note 1]
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 8 ounces fresh pasta noodles
- 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- In a four-quart saucepan, bring three quarts of liberally salted water to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, reduce heat to simmer until you’re ready to cook the pasta.
- While the water is heating up, grate the skin of the lemon into a small saucepan. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the pan, removing any seeds. Add the garlic and one tablespoon of olive oil to the saucepan. Stir to blend well. Place on stovetop on low heat.
- Heat a large nonstick pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat until very hot and almost smoking. Season the scallops with salt and pepper.
- Place the scallops in the hot pan seasoned side down in a clockwise fashion beginning at 12 o'clock. Sear for 1 minute until golden at the edges, then turn them in the same order that you placed them in the pan, and cook the other side for no longer than another 1 minute on the second side. The perfectly seared scallop is seared yet still soft, white and glistening with juices in the center.
- When both sides of the scallop are nicely golden brown in color, add the lemon juice to pan, making sure to coat the scallops with the lemon juice.
- Meanwhile, after turning the scallops to the second side, drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook according to package directions.
- Drain the pasta reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Return the drained pasta to the pot, and toss with the warm lemon-olive oil mixture and the reserved pasta water - to keep it from sticking.
- Divide the pasta equally among four plates (about one cup per plate). Top each plate with four scallops.
- Garnish each dish with shredded Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped parsley. Serve immediately. [See Note 2]
- Sea scallops are larger scallops and Bay scallops are the tiny ones. I prefer sea scallops over Bay scallops but you can certainly use Bay scallops if that's what your prefer. The cooking times will be much different due to the size of the Bay scallops.
- Scallops are not the best reheated. They are best enjoyed freshly cooked.
- This recipe is easily doubled or halved.