This recipe for seared scallops and pasta is an elegant, one-dish dinner that’s easy to make and sure to please seafood and pasta lovers alike.
Served over a bed of sautéed fresh spinach, this dish combines delicate angel hair pasta, pan-seared sea scallops and grape tomatoes with a light, white wine butter sauce.
How to Make Scallops and Pasta
The primary key to success with this recipe is timing, so have all your ingredients prepared and close at hand so you can execute each step quickly.
Start by putting a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta, then sauté the spinach in batches and set it aside until you’re ready to plate.
To make the sauce, sauté a few cloves of garlic in butter, whisk in a bit of flour and gradually add white wine.
Add the tomatoes and cook just long enough to soften them, then set the whole mixture aside while you cook the pasta and scallops.
Start the pasta cooking and get ready to pan-sear the scallops. Scallops only take about three minutes to cook, so you should have enough time to finish them while the angel hair cooks.
Melt some butter in a large frying pan (we like stainless steel), give it a swirl and add the scallops, one at a time in a clockwise pattern.
By adding the scallops to the pan individually, you’ll know the order in which to turn them so they cook evenly and to just the right doneness.
Once the scallops are cooked, remove the pan from the heat and tend to the pasta.
Special note: This recipe is written for two servings. You can easily double it, but we recommend either cooking the scallops in two batches, or dividing them between two separate pans.
Reserve some of the pasta water, then drain the angel hair and combine it with the white wine butter and tomatoes, adding a little of that reserved liquid as needed.
Finish the dish by plating individual servings of spinach and topping with a portion of angel hair and tomatoes. Add the scallops, spoon the buttery pan juices over top and enjoy!
To find more easy tips on how to make perfectly seared scallops every time, check out our recipe for: Pan-Seared Scallops with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
Scallops and Pasta with White Wine Butter
Served over sautéed spinach, this one-dish dinner includes pan-seared scallops, angel hair pasta, fresh tomatoes and a garlicky, white wine butter sauce.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 2 servings
- Category: Main Dishes
- Cuisine: Italian
- 4 oz angel hair pasta
- 3/4 lb dry sea scallops (see notes below)
- Vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 10 ounces fresh spinach
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 3/4 cup dry white wine (or low-sodium chicken broth)
- 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Put a large pot of salted water on to a boil for the angel hair.
- Arrange the scallops on a plate in a single layer and pat dry with paper towels. Brush both sides with a little oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with a small amount of oil and heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add a few handfuls of spinach and toss continually with a pair of tongs until wilted. Transfer the cooked spinach to a plate and repeat the process until all the spinach is cooked.
- Wipe out the pan and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 1-1/2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the wine and cook until smooth and blended, 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Add the tomatoes and cook just long enough to soften them, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, set aside and wipe out the pan.
- Add the angel hair to the boiling water and as soon as it returns to a boil, begin cooking the scallops.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat, swirl the pan to coat and add the scallops one at a time in a clockwise pattern. Cook until lightly seared, about 1-1/2 minutes per side.
Tip: Use tongs to turn the scallops in the order in which you added them to the pan and don’t try to turn them too quickly or they might stick. Once properly seared, you’ll find they release from the pan easily.
- As soon as the scallops are cooked, remove the pan from the heat.
- Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the angel hair and return it to the pan. Add the sauce and tomato mixture and toss to combine, adding the reserved pasta water in small increments to help coat the pasta evenly.
- To serve, divide the spinach between 2 serving plates, top each with a portion of pasta and tomatoes, then add the scallops. Spoon the remaining pan juices over the top and serve immediately.
Dry sea scallops are scallops that have not been soaked in a brine-like solution frequently used to prevent them from losing their natural moisture.
If the scallops you’re buying are not clearly marked, ask your fishmonger. Only the “dry” variety will work for this recipe as you will not be able to sear the “wet” type properly.