The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Scallops ‘n’ Pasta

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

When I tell people that I develop recipes, photograph and blog full-time, they automatically think that I have this easy, glamorous life where I flit around the kitchen singing happy songs while stirring a pot of soup, wearing a clean, crisp, cute little apron and dainty heels. And my reality is so far from that. Okay, I confess that I actually do sing happy songs in the kitchen, but usually it’s silly songs that my five and six-year-old bring home from school; and I do wear platform shoes in the kitchen, but it’s because I’m short.

It’s a wonderful career and I am very fortunate to absolutely love what I do. But, some days it can get pretty quiet in the kitchen by myself, and even to the point of lonely in the evenings on the couch, trying to decipher out what the heck is wrong with my flippin’-PHP-HTML-CSS-whatchamacallit-code on my blog.

That’s why I have a legion of close blogging friends; we consider each other sort of like coworkers. The type of friends that you could call up at 10pm and rant about so-and-so who left a rude comment or panic about “I broke my site!” We e-mail each other for advice, help and encouragement.

Ree is one of those friends, and I love her dearly. Even though we’ve only seen each other a couple of times in person, we get on like sisters—blog sisters, that is. I was absolutely thrilled when we asked me to be a regular blogger-columnist on Tasty Kitchen, and elated to see how this community of food lovers has grown so quickly!

So, once a week I’ll be blogging here, and instead of giving straight recipes, I really want to focus on kitchen secrets, cooking lessons, product reviews and anything else that you really want to learn about. Such as, how to store green onions so that they last for weeks or how to open a bottle of champagne without donking someone in the head or putting out one of your ceiling lights (guilty).

I’d love to hear what you’d like to learn! It’s so nice to meet and see you!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Today, I’m going to teach you how to make a 15-minute seafood pasta dish. Once you’ve learned this method, you can make a super-easy, quick and perfect dish every single time. Yes, it’s simple enough that you really don’t need a recipe (but I did post the recipe for all you recipe lovers!). I’ve got secrets to share … so are you ready?

We’re using giant scallops here, but you could also use shrimp.

Here are my secrets:

1. Cook your pasta in salted water: Bring a big pot of water to boil and add enough salt so it’s slightly salty. This gives your pasta flavor and you’ll end up using less salt or sauce in your dish.

2. Everything ready to go: This dish cooks up so quickly that you really need to have all your ingredients prepped and close by. You don’t want the seafood to get cold while you’re furiously chopping tomatoes.

3. Dry seafood: Before you begin cooking, you really want to pat your seafood very very dry. And I don’t mean a sloppy dry. Use a couple of pieces of paper towel and really make sure that you blot all the moisture away. The reason this is so important is because seafood cooks really quickly. Any moisture on the seafood will end up steaming the seafood instead of pan-frying it.

4. High heat or low heat—no middle heat: Here’s my rule for cooking small pieces of seafood, like scallops, shrimp, or chunks of fish. Either go high heat or low heat, but not in the middle. The high heat will give you a wonderful sear, that charred crust that I will give up my Gucci purse for. A low, slow heat will gently cook the seafood so that it has a silky texture, but that’s for another lesson.

5. Don’t overcook your seafood: I know it’s obvious, but I do have to say it. For scallops and shrimp, they really only need a couple of minutes on each side. If you’re using small bay shrimp (about the size of a small marshmallow) – 1 1/2 minutes on each side or less.

Your first step is to get the water boiling for the pasta. Once boiling, add enough salt to make the water taste salty. How much you use depends on how much water you’re boiling. Start with 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt), stir, taste the water and you can add more after that. Don’t worry, not all the salt will transfer to the pasta, but it will definitely give your pasta flavor. While your pasta is cooking, it’s time to prep the rest of the ingredients. When the pasta is done, you can drain it and just set aside.

Okay, now for the fun part.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

The first step is to make sure your pan is hot, super hot. I like using a cast iron frying pan, because I can get that baby heated up to maximum temperature.

Put the pan on high heat and don’t even look at the thing until it’s hot. How do you tell? Hold your hand 6 inches above the pan, and if you can’t hold it there for more than 3 seconds, you’re good to go. Swirl in a bit of olive oil.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Lay the scallops (or your chosen seafood) in the pan. Do not touch them for two minutes (1 1/2 minutes if you’re cooking small shrimp or smaller scallops). Don’t you dare try to move ‘em and squish them around! This is essential to getting a good sear.

After two minutes are up:

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

You can peek! Wow, nice crust there. Now turn them over.

If you’re only cooking a few scallops, like I am, here’s a trick. See the empty section in the middle of the pan up above? Well, that spot is extra hot.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

So when I flip over the scallops to cook the other side, I place the scallops in the middle—in the hot spot. Cook the second side for 1 1/2 minutes or so (they cook quickly). Look at the pan. There is no liquid at all. This is because my scallops were absolutely dry before added them into the pan. The high heat gave it a perfect, savory crust.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Quickly lift them out on a plate.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Turn the heat to low, add some butter.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Then some garlic and/or onions …

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Diced tomatoes …

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Now turn the heat to high and add a cup of white wine, beer or vegetable stock. Let it simmer and bubble for 30 seconds. Use your spatula to scrape up the crusty pan bits (there’s flavor in the pan bits!).

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Add your cooked/drained pasta.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Squeeze a bit of lemon to give it a bit of brightness.

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Garnish with your fresh herb of choice (any of: parsley, cilantro, basil, chives).

And that’s it!

Tasty Kitchen Blog: Scallops and Pasta. Guest post by Jaden Hair of Steamy Kitchen.

Serve the scallops snuggled in with the pasta.


Printable Recipe

Scallops ‘n Pasta

See post on steamykitchen’s site!
4.92 Mitt(s) 13 Rating(s)13 votes, average: 4.92 out of 513 votes, average: 4.92 out of 513 votes, average: 4.92 out of 513 votes, average: 4.92 out of 513 votes, average: 4.92 out of 5

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Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 2


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A super-easy and quick 15-minute seafood pasta dish. This recipe uses giant scallops, but you could also use shrimp.


  • 4 ounces, weight Dried Pasta Of Your Choice
  • 10 whole Giant Dry-packed Sea Scallops Or Jumbo Shrimp
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 1 clove Garlic, Finely Diced
  • 1 whole Tomato, Chopped
  • 1 cup White Wine, Beer, Or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 sprig Parsley, Finely Minced
  • Just A Bit Of Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Salt And Pepper

Preparation Instructions

1. Cook the pasta in salted water per the instructions on the box. Drain and set aside.

2. In the meantime, prep all the ingredients and have them at the ready nearby. For the scallops (or shrimp), use a couple of layers of paper towels and pat very dry. Move the scallops to a clean sheet of paper towel and pat dry once more. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.

3. Heat a large frying pan or saute pan over high heat. When hot, swirl in the olive oil. Add the scallops to the pan, not touching. Give each scallop ample room so that they can sear properly. Cook for 2 minutes without touching (1 1/2 minutes if using smaller pieces of scallops or shrimp) then flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes until cooked through. Remove to a plate.

4. Turn the heat to low. Add the butter and the garlic. Saute for just 10 seconds and then add the tomatoes.

5. Turn the heat to high and add in the white wine (or beer or vegetable stock). Let it bubble a bit for 30 seconds and use your spatula to scrape up the bits in the pan. Season with salt and pepper (go light on the salt … remember your pasta is lightly salted now), throw in the parsley and then add in your cooked pasta. Stir well to let the sauce coat the pasta. Serve with the scallops.


Jaden Hair is a food writer, television personality, and food photographer based in Tampa Bay, Florida. Find more of her recipes in her blog, Steamy Kitchen, where you can also read more about Jaden’s new book, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, and the rave reviews it’s received!



Comments are closed for this recipe.

Casey on 5.21.2010

Thanks a lot! I’m making this now. (& great photos!)

dropfood on 3.24.2010

Dropfood make you easy to share a recipe

Ngoc on 3.22.2010

The scallop pasta looks delicious!
But the pasta itself looks rather dry.

Melissa E on 3.21.2010

I made these for the first time with scallops at my sisters this weekend, and everyone, including my 1 1/2 year old niece, loved them!

When I make this recipe at home, I use chicken as the hubby doesn’t care for scallops. At the end I sprinkle on a dash of parmesan cheese. Yum!

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rithe on 3.20.2010

I had no idea scallops were this easy! I absolutely love this recipe because when I looked at the picture, I thought I’d be cooking for hours. But it sounds so simple, I’m excited to try it. Thanks for sharing this!

Tamz on 3.20.2010

oh my! I can’t wait to try this, thanks for sharing! My husband was just told he has high cholesterol for his age and needs to steer away from red meat, so this will be the perfect dish to add to my arsenal!

Heather @ what's blooming this week on 3.20.2010

Made this dish for a late dinner last night. It was amazing – quick, easy and delicious. Jaden is right – dry the scallops. It makes the world of difference. The crust was crisp with tender scallop meat inside. Fantastic!

Amalia on 3.20.2010

I absolutely love this dish, so easy and so yummy.
Thanks for the step by step photos, and for always sharing your recipes with us.

Robbie on 3.20.2010

I always order scallops at seafood restaurants. Now I think I can try them at home and be happy with the results. Your photo of the dish makes me hungry! Thank you for being so generous with your talent.

Jenn on 3.19.2010

Just made this for dinner -oh my goodness, it was fantastic! And, super quick and easy. Thanks so much for the yumminess :)

Kate on 3.19.2010

Will you marry me?

Caitlin on 2.21.2010

This was my first attempt at cooking scallops, and they came out PERFECTLY! Thank you so much for this recipe – it’s was so easy, I know it’s going to become a staple around my house.

Gina on 2.18.2010

Awesomely simple!

Shana on 2.11.2010

I made this last night. I had to let the wine cook down a bit longer than the recipe called for. YUM!!!!!

Ok, I did have to add some parm for a little extra salty tang, as this is a pretty mild dish. But it was SO SO GOOD!!!!

Jee on 2.9.2010

I didn’t know this was a new addition on top of your other blog and the Tampa tribune…etc.
I love that you’re sharing kitchen secrets –
it’s just one of those things you will never ever know until you learn it from somebody and that makes all the difference!!
I was always disappointed on how un-crusty my scallops would turn out – now I know why.
Next time I cook scallops I’ll pat them dry dry dry!! :)
Thanks for such a wonderful yet simple recipe. (also love the idea of rolling the compound butter into a log – brilliant!!)

Sandra Sallin on 2.7.2010

Looks like a great recipe. I seem to always steam my scallops. I’ll try your method. I’d love to know the manufacturer of your iron skillet. I haven’t seen that one before.

Stephanie on 2.7.2010

Steamy Kitchen, I think I love you :)

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bump on 2.7.2010

Made this last night, here’s the results:

Thanks for the recipe!

Rebecca on 2.6.2010

I just made this for lunch – delish! I used linguine instead of spaghetti and grape tomatoes instead of a whole tomato. Turned out wonderfully AND it looks like your photo – – love when that happens :)

Shannon on 2.6.2010

Made this last night and thought I screwed it up, but it was seriously delish! Any tips on how do it on a crummy electric cooktop? I would have liked my shrimp (out of scallops) to have a little more sear on them, but the flavor was still incredible! Will make it again as the whole family liked it. Thanks!

Missy on 2.4.2010

I am in heaven! Thank you so much! I’m going to try this tomorrow night for dinner. I have some scallops in my freezer that I’ve been wondering what to do with. This is PERFECT!

Adventures of a Middle Age Mom on 2.2.2010

Oh my, my. I’m starved and this recipe looks great and easy to boot. Too bad my teenage son ate all the scallops the other day. Must. Get. To. Food. Store. Now.

dumbblondies on 2.2.2010

that looks AMAZING and you make it look so easy in the pictures – is it hard to mess up the scallops? I really want to try and make it for my boyfriend for valentines day

Boy am I hungry right now on 2.2.2010

What I want to know is how you cook/photograph/blog full time. I know it isn’t easy but I’d love to do that…

Megan on 2.2.2010

This looks SOOO delicious! I can’t wait to try it!! Thanks! :-)

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chriann on 2.2.2010

P.S. I had to go google where “scallops” come from – I KNOW!
::hangs head & kicks the dirt::

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chriann on 2.2.2010

You have a perfect writing style for people like me! (those that chose “Home cook in training” on their profile). I’m a total imbecile when it comes to cooking ANYTHING in a frying pan (except breakfast).
I’m not a seafood person but you have inspired me to give this a go!

Just wanted to tell you that
Your level of detail is perfect (for someone like me)
Your pictures are great
Your writing is clear and fun to read

♥ Thank You ♥

Lissa on 2.2.2010

This is beautiful! It’s making me rethink my dinner plans!

Kirsty on 2.1.2010

We had this tonight for dinner – it was loved by everyone, adults and kids alike. Delicious and very, very satisfying.

ting on 1.31.2010

thank you! im so excited to see your posts weekly because ive only recently realized how little i know about cooking, ESPECIALLY the basics! yummy!

Shannon on 1.31.2010

this looks so yummy. I can not wait to try it!

Georgia.Pellegrini on 1.31.2010

Scallops can be tricky because they can easily become chewy, but yours look perfect!

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considerthelilies on 1.31.2010

The skillet reminds me of a top to a cast iron dutch oven that we had in our home when I was growing up…both had handles much like an iron skillet and the top was used as much as the base around our house.

This recipe looks terrific and with shrimp in the freezer, that version will be on the menu SOON!

By the way, good suggestion from Frank…I check my shrimp too to make sure they are not packaged with additives!

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BluebonnetGal on 1.30.2010

My husband and I love scallops and I love pasta. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe and I am going to make tonight using scallops that we’ve had in the freezer but I wasn’t in the mood for until seeing your recipe. I’ve wanted to cook them but always broiled them for fear that if I put them in a pan I would cook them too long. Thanks for all the tips in getting the pan hot enough. I’ll use my iron skillet too and pray they come out as good as yours look.

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MS Hospitality on 1.30.2010

Hi Jaden!
So nice to meet you!
OK… looked over this blog entry and made giant shrimp and pasta last night, except, I didn’t have tomatoes so I used sundried tomato paste in the veggies. It was a bit too dry so I also added about 1/4 cup of V-8 Juice at the end… Primo!
I knew the thing about drying the seafood becaue my father was a Gulf Coast Shrimper and thank you for reminding us about the importance of dry seafood. Thanks for the super tutorial recipe!
I would like to know how to make fantastic egg rolls. Do you have a recipe for that?
I am also curious about the green onions!

bridget {bake at 350} on 1.30.2010

Lucky us to have you here!!!

Laughing at your “I broke my site”…that’s one of my BIG fears! :)

This recipe looks AMAZING!!! Adding to my “must make” list!

Frank on 1.30.2010

What a wonderful recipe. Your food photos always make me hungry.

I do have a tip on buying scallops. Many frozen scallops are soaked in a phosphate solution . This solution makes them whiter and at the same time makes them absorb more water. That is why you have to pat them dry so much. When buying frozen scallops try to find the ones that labeled “dry pack” without the solution.
You will still need to pat these dry, but not as much.

People with sensitive taste buds can taste the solution too in the scallops.

Lisa Pelosi on 1.30.2010

Yay! What a great addition to TK! I just love you and your recipes and sense of humor. By the way, can you tell me where to purchase Sake 2 me? I can’t find it anywhere in NH!

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jorja on 1.29.2010

I love that you’ll be sharing secrets and giving lessons here! I want to be a good cook but have always felt like I’m missing some basic knowledge. For instance, I knew I should salt the water when I cook pasta, but I never knew really knew why or that I should use a whole teaspoon! It’s those simple things that I need to learn somewhere. Thank you!

Norah on 1.29.2010

I Love – Love – Love scallops but have always been afraid to cook them – this seems so easy – I will have to give it a try. Thanks!

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Ree | The Pioneer Woman on 1.29.2010

St. Fairstead, I was wondering the same thing about the skillet. Different shape, isn’t it?

I L-O-V-E scallops and forget to keep them in my freezer.

pati mk on 1.29.2010

Looks so good and easy. Thank you. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Sally O on 1.29.2010

Thank you for the how to. I have always loved scallops (when someone else cooked them) and now I am able to make them myself!

Spruce Hill on 1.29.2010

I am looking forward to more of your posts! This looks so yummy!

Judy from Kentucky on 1.29.2010

You make it look so easy! I excited about learning about cooking. I have never enjoyed cooking, but am just now at 40, becoming excited at putting ingredients together and enjoying something edible.

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ivoryhut on 1.29.2010

What a gorgeous money shot. I almost took a fork to my monitor.

Food Woolf on 1.29.2010

Those pictures are just so beautiful it’s as if you cut windows through the blog into your kitchen. What a gorgeous pictorial on how to make a wonderful and easy dish. Great tips.

And, more than anything, great to hear what it’s like for you to cook at home!

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2tired2cook on 1.28.2010

Ha! Love, love, love quick, easy recipes. Thank You Jaden. I can do this and it’s sounds fantastic.

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amanda on 1.28.2010

Being born and raised in the scallop capital of the world, I must say, those are some darn good lookin’ scallops! They are making my mouth water! I am going to give your recipe a try. Thanks for sharing!

Monica on 1.28.2010

I just started a food blog in order to share my family traditions about food and I’m learning so much from everything in this great cooking community… but I would love to learn about food photography… your pictures are amazing! And the FOOD oh, the FOOD!.. I think I’m going to go heat that skillet right NOW!