How To Pair Bay Scallops And Pasta For A Stunning Dinner

A fancy seafood dinner doesn't have to be lobster or a whole branzino; bay scallops and pasta can give you a flavorful and elegant meal for way less effort and money. At about ½-inch in diameter, bay scallops are the smaller cousins of larger sea scallops, but what they lack in size they make up for in concentrated flavor. They are tender and have a robustly sweet flavor. As a lover of seafood, and especially seafood pasta, bay scallops are always a go-to choice for me because they provide that amazing seafood flavor while being far easier to work with and meatier than mussels or clams. They're also much more affordable than other options like crab.

I also just love scallops by themselves, especially seared, so I don't want the pasta or sauce to outshine them. I keep the flavors delicate and bright, and when picking a pasta shape, I prefer something thin like angel hair. It won't overwhelm the scallops, and it's easy to wrap around your fork with a slice of scallop for one cohesive bite.

From there, I pick ingredients that are simple and fresh to complement the meaty taste of the scallops. Lemon and its sharp acidity is a perfect pairing with scallops, and fresh herbs will be welcome with them on any plate too. But that's just the beginning. There are a number of classic pasta dish flavors you can start with that are easy to incorporate bay scallops into for a really special meal.

Bay scallops and pasta work best with light flavors like lemon or fresh tomato

For those who like lemony flavors, a simple fish piccata sauce will elevate your bay scallops and taste great coating your pasta. The creaminess that comes as the butter emulsifies at the end adds welcome richness and an elegant texture, while the briny capers will help bring out the seafood notes of the scallops even more. Just be sure to make the sauce by deglazing the pan you seared the scallops in so you save as much of their flavor as possible. Additionally, increase the recipe to have enough sauce for the pasta.

If you prefer a tomato sauce with your pasta, seared bay scallops can still work wonderfully. To keep things light, it's best to make a fresh tomato sauce, ideally by cooking cherry tomatoes in olive oil with onions until they burst, and then using reserved pasta water to emulsify everything into a cohesive sauce. Finish off the dish with a heavy sprinkle of fresh herbs like basil, parsley, and tarragon to make everything pop. This is also a great direction if you want to add some spice. Just deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine after the tomatoes cook, and add a teaspoon or two of red pepper flakes to make a scallop variation on the classic fra diavolo pasta sauce. Keep things simple, keep things fresh, and your bay scallops will easily transform into a restaurant-worthy pasta dish.