Always looking for a way to get more vegetables into our diet and knowing my husband will eat anything with pasta, I created this summery vegetable pasta dish with seared scallops. You could also serve it with chicken or even alone. It’s a dish that takes advantage of abundant summer produce at the market and can be made in short order.
How to Buy Scallops
When purchasing scallops look for “dry” or chemical free scallops. Ask if they have been treated with a phosphate solution. Treated scallops absorb water. A brilliant white color is a giveaway. Not only do you pay for water weight, they don’t taste as good. Treated scallops leave a milky solution in the pan as they cook so they steam more than sear, meaning they don’t brown as well.
Scallops should smell like the ocean, fresh and clean, not strong or fishy. Choose scallops that are close to the same size so they will cook at the same rate. Have the fish counter pick them out carefully and individually. Watch as they select your scallops and guide them if necessary so you get what you want. Scallops are best cooked the same day. I usually ask the fish counter to package them in an ice bag to transport home, then put them in the fridge on ice in a shallow dish until dinner time.
Prep and Cook Vegetables
To start this dish, bring a pot to water to a boil and prep your vegetables. Halve the tomatoes, chop the zucchini and cook the corn (or use organic frozen corn that has been thawed). Sauté in a little olive oil with shallot and garlic, add the vegetables and cook until they are softened and hot. Cook the pasta and toss with the vegetables, adding some chopped fresh basil or oregano leaves.
To sear scallops, you’ll need a good non-stick pan. My favorite is the ScanPan CTX. It’s the best non-stick pan I’ve used and works great for searing scallops as well as many other dishes (like omelets). Check your non-stick pan. If it’s scratchy and the coating is old and flaking, it’s not safe to use. Toss it and invest in a new one.
Unwrap the scallops and allow them to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes to get the chill off. Check to see if the abductor muscle is still attached (the “foot”). If it is, remove it. It’s chewy and not nice to eat. Some stores remove it for you.
Sprinkle the scallops with kosher or sea salt. Heat the pan over medium to medium high and add a teaspoon of oil. Place the scallops in a single layer in the pan. Don’t crowd them. Allow a golden crust to form. This will take a few minutes. Don’t disturb the scallops while they are searing. Watch your heat and turn down if needed. You don’t want them to burn.
When you get a golden crust, turn them over. I use silicone tipped tongs. Pour in the wine and immediately cover with the lid. Turn the heat to low. The scallops will finish cooking in about 2 minutes, depending on size and thickness. When done they should still be a little translucent in the center. Don’t overcook them.
To serve, place pasta and vegetables in a wide shallow bowl. For garish, sprinkle on additional fresh chopped herbs, top with scallops and if desired and little drizzle of good finishing olive oil.
Seared Scallops with Vegetables and Pasta
Serves 2 (doubles for 4 easily)
- 1 large ear of fresh corn, husk and silk removed (or 2/3 cup/92 grams frozen organic corn kernals, thawed)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced crosswise into rings
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced fine
- ½ of a dry pint (165 grams) small sweet tomatoes, halved
- 1 large zucchini (8-9 ounces/235 grams)
- 10-12 ounces of large “dry” sea scallops (if it’s still there, remove the “foot” or abductor on the side)
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) dry white wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- A handful of fresh basil leaves (oregano is nice too)
- 4 ounces of whole wheat pasta (angel hair, linguine, or spaghetti)
- If using fresh corn, bring a pot of water (large enough to hold the ear of corn) to a boil. Add salt and drop corn into the boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes and remove the corn. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife and set aside.
- For zucchini, trim off the ends, then cut lengthwise into quarters. Holding your knife parallel to the cutting board, cut out the seedy center. Cut each quarter into slices about a ½” (1 cm) wide. Set aside.
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil for the pasta. While the water is coming to a boil, cook the vegetables. In a large sauté or fry pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. When it shimmers add the shallot and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the corn, tomatoes and zucchini. Cook approximately 5-7 minutes. Tomatoes will shrivel up, zucchini and corn will brown a bit. When done turn off the heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper to season.
- When water comes to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, add back to the pot. Add the vegetables and toss gently. Keep warm.
- To prepare scallops, pat them dry, then season top and bottom with salt and pepper. Heat a non-stick sauté pan over medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil. When hot, place the scallops in a flat, single layer in the pan. Allow them to cook until a golden brown crust forms, then turn carefully with tongs (I like the ones with soft silicone tips). Pour in the wine, cover with a lid immediately and turn heat to low. Cook scallops about another 2 minutes. They will be slightly translucent in the center. Do not over cook them. Depending on size, they will probably take between 5-7 minutes.
- Place pasta and vegetables in wide shallow bowls, top with basil and scallops. Finish with a little salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
My favorite organic whole wheat pasta is DeLallo. It’s widely available.
My favorite brown and wild rice blend from Lundberg, also widely available. Quick tip – Cooks faster in a pressure cooker at 22 minutes.
For rice pasta, try Tinkyada. Tastes great and is wheat and gluten-free
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