It's scallop hunting season in Florida, so that means it's time to be on the lookout for some great recipes to make with the haul. This Simple Bay Scallops with Pasta and Lemon Garlic Sauce recipe is one of our favorites because it combines creamy garlic linguine, buttery tender bay scallops, and a touch of lemon and basil for freshness.
What to serve with scallops and pasta? A delicious side salad and some crusty bread, of course!
Bay scallops are a species of scallops that are smaller in size and a bit sweeter than your average sea scallop. They are found in salty, shallow-water estuaries along the Gulf Coast. They are full of flavor, take very little time to cook, and make for an effortless weeknight meal.
Why we love this recipe:
- It's nostalgic - It's a tradition in our family to take the boat out during scallop season and catch dinner. We have many memories of scalloping that we will cherish for years to come. This linguine dish is one of our favorite bay scallop recipes.
- It's tasty - We crave the combination of flavors. These tender scallops are a delicacy and have a sweet flavor. They go very well with the linguine and homemade lemon garlic sauce for a delicious main course.
- It's romantic - Cooking scallops and serving them with a side salad and your favorite glass of white wine will create a special dinner for date night. No need to dine out.
- Scallops - We used bay scallops for this recipe because they were fresh out of the boat. Yum!
- Linguine - We like to pair our bay scallops with linguine noodles since they're a little thicker than traditional spaghetti.
- Parmesan cheese - Fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano is recommended.
- Garlic - Use fresh minced garlic cloves if possible.
- White wine - We used chardonnay, but feel free to use any dry white wine that you enjoy. We do not recommend cheap cooking wines.
- Butter - The unsalted variety.
- Olive Oil - Use good quality olive oil.
- Lemon - The juice of half a lemon and a little zest for tang and brightness.
- Basil - Fresh basil adds a fresh flavor. Parsley would also work well.
- Salt - Just a little will do!
- Pepper - Fresh cracked pepper is best.
Note: Refer to the recipe card below for exact quantities.
- Scallops - If bay scallops are not available in your area, large sea scallops can be used if you adjust the cooking time. You could also create a shrimp recipe by substituting simple shrimp.
- Pasta - Spaghetti or angel hair pasta would make a great substitute for linguine.
- Wine - No white wine? Use a little chicken broth or chicken stock instead.
- Herbs - Fresh parsley would be fine in place of basil.
- Flavor - Add some chili flakes for a little extra heat. Blackened sea scallops would make for a nice variation if you're in the mood for a lot of spice. I wouldn't recommend this seasoning on bay scallops because of their sweet delicate flavor.
- Texture - Add some bread crumbs for a little crunch or some heavy cream for a thicker, richer, sauce.
How to Make Simple Bay Scallops with Pasta and Lemon Garlic Sauce
STEP ONE: Prepare the Scallops and Other Ingredients
Begin by cleaning the scallops (if caught fresh) and drying them off with a paper towel. Heat a few tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. In the hot skillet, add scallops and pan-sear them for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove promptly and set aside.
All other ingredients should be measured, minced, chopped, etc. so that they are ready to add in quickly.
STEP TWO: Prepare the Pasta
Bring water to a boil and add salt. Boil pasta according to package directions, for approximately 10 minutes, and drain in a colander. Begin preparing the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
STEP THREE: Prepare the Sauce
In the same skillet on low heat, add 4 tablespoon of butter. When the butter is almost melted, add garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Cook until fragrant and then add white wine and a little pasta water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, or remove all the way from the burner. When the wine has been reduced by half, add a squeeze of lemon.
STEP FOUR: Assemble and Serve
Combine cooked pasta with sauce and add freshly grated parmesan cheese. Stir well until the cheese has melted. Taste and add more salt or parmesan cheese if desired. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl, then add the pan-seared scallops on top. Add additional parmesan, lemon zest, and fresh chopped basil. Serve immediately.
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Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1-2 days.
This dish is not freezer friendly.
Note: Refer to Top Tips below for more storage and reheating tips.
Purchase fresh scallops if available.
Add generous amounts of salt to your pasta water before boiling. This will add flavor and help bring it to a boil faster.
Save a little salty pasta water to add to your sauce to help loosen it up and season.
Reheat leftover pasta by tossing it with a little oil in a frying pan until heated through.
Have leftover ingredients?
- Leftover scallops? Fry them up and make a delicious Fried Bay-Scallop Po' Boy Sandwich, toss them in a Caesar Salad, or enjoy Baked Bay Scallops or lemon butter sauteed scallops.
- Use your excess linguine to make Linguine alla Carbonara with Prosciutto and Peas.
In the mood for a similar dish?
- Spaghetti Nero di Seppia with Clams
- The BEST Shrimp and Crab Gumbo (Family Recipe)
- Maple Bourbon Bacon Wrapped Salmon Bites
Need something to pair this with?
- Try this quick and easy Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
- You may also like this Simple Arugula Side Salad
More dinner recipes you will love:
What is the difference between a bay scallop and a sea scallop?
How do you catch bay scallops?
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
Bay Scallops with Pasta and Lemon Garlic Sauce
- ¼ lb Scallops
- ½ lb Linguine
- ½ cup Freshly grated parmesan
- 6-8 cloves Garlic
- ½ cup White wine
- 2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- 4 tablespoon Butter
- ½ qty Lemon (Juice of)
- ¼ teaspoon Red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Pepper
- 2-3 leaves Basil
- Lemon wedges and zest
- Clean and pat scallops dry, then season them with a very small amount of black pepper. Prepare remaining ingredients.
- In a large skillet on medium-high heat, pan sear scallops in olive oil for 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove immediately after cooked and set aside for later.
- Add salt to boiling water. Boil pasta according to package directions. While pasta is boiling, prepare the sauce.
- Add butter to the skillet. When butter is almost melted, add garlic, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add white wine and a little pasta water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Remove pan from the burner if necessary.
- When wine has reduced by half, add the juice of half a lemon. A citrus squeezer is a great kitchen tool for this purpose.
- After pasta has cooked and drained, add it to the sauce with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Stir well until cheese has melted. Taste and add more salt or parmesan cheese if desired.
- Transfer prepared pasta to a serving bowl, then add the pan seared scallops on top. Add additional parmesan, lemon wedges and zest, and fresh chopped basil. Serve immediately.
Cook shellfish and fish to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C)
- Create a clean work area.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat or seafood.
- Rinse fresh produce thoroughly.
- Do not use the same cutting board or utensils on cooked food or produce, that previously touched raw meat or seafood.
- Do not leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with a high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove.