If you're looking for an elegant, delicious dinner that can be made in just 30 minutes, try my savory Lemon Garlic Scallop Pasta. It has perfectly pan-seared scallops, it's dairy-free and it will impress your family and dinner guests!
Seafood and pasta are arguably the two best foods in the whole world. They are definitely two of my favorite foods. Such an incredible pairing of textures and flavor possibilities with seafood and pasta!
Before I had to go mostly dairy-free, I would gorge on creamy seafood pasta almost any time it was offered at a restaurant. I couldn't resist! And when I go out to eat, I love to order food that I wouldn't normally make at home. For a long time, that meant scallops.
❤️ What makes this Scallop Pasta dish so special?
- This dish is an EASY recipe to cook up at home. You won't believe you've waited this long to make your own pan seared scallops dinner! This lemon garlic scallop pasta dish is done in less than 30 minutes. Fancy AND fast!
- It's decadent and luxurious, but much more affordable than eating out. Yes, scallops do tend to cost more than shrimp and crab, but they're not as expensive as lobster. And for a fancy schmancy meal, you're actually saving a LOT of money compared to if you ordered this at a restaurant!
- Dairy free. I use coconut milk to give this scallop pasta recipe a smooth, velvety texture without the diary!
👩🏽🍳 Ingredient notes
- Olive oil
- Scallops - you can use fresh seafood or frozen. If you use frozen be sure to thaw them completely first. Also dry the scallops completely before searing
- Unsalted vegan butter
- Garlic - my recipe calls for plenty of garlic, 4 cloves, but feel free to adjust to your preference
- Dry white wine - this adds some bright acidity to the dish
- Coconut milk - to give it a smooth, creamy texture without the dairy
- Lemon juice - you can also add grated lemon zest for extra lemon-y flavor
- Fresh parsley - to garnish
- Kosher salt and black pepper
✅ Step-by-step instructions
Here's how to make this delicious recipe. (For complete instructions see the recipe card below.)
1. I almost always use linguine or fettuccine, but you could almost use any kind of pasta shape you like with this dish. The first thing I do is start the water for the pasta and get that cooking. Then cook the pasta according to the package directions, just until it's al dente.
2. To pan sear scallops, one of my top tips is to make sure you pat dry them completely with paper towels before searing. This will remove any excess moisture and ensure they cook evenly. It will also give you that nice golden crust on each side of the scallop.
3. Then simply heat a large skillet or cast iron pan (I love my Finex cookware cast iron skillets) with olive oil. Place scallops in the skillet and sear on medium high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side; set aside on a plate to rest while you make the sauce.
4. Add your fave vegan butter to the pan and scrape up any brown bits. Cook the garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add the coconut milk.
Now, I almost always use Thai Kitchen's Organic full-fat coconut milk in my dairy-free pasta sauces. However, you could substitute with almond milk. If you CAN have dairy, then by all means, please do use heavy cream instead.
5. Return the scallops to the pan, add lemon juice, and stir in the cooked pasta with a little pasta water (this adds even more velvety texture to the dish), and voila!
6. Then garnish with parsley. You have a gorgeous, elegant, super fancy weeknight dinner that took 30 minutes or less and you didn't even have to get dressed up to go out.
First, make sure you dry them completely on paper towels before searing. This will ensure they cook evenly and it will give you that nice golden crust on the outside.
Then simply heat a pan (I recommend using a cast iron skillet) with olive oil, searing each side for 2-3 minutes.
🥣 Tools and Equipment
Here's what you'll need to make this seared scallops with pasta dish:
- Cast-iron skillet or stainless steel skillet - I use a cast iron skillet to get a good sear on the scallops but stainless steel will work also
- Wooden spoon - to deglaze the skillet without scratching it
🍷 Wine Pairings for Scallops
As you might expect, a bright, lively white wine pairs beautifully with any seafood pasta dinner. With this pan seared scallops with pasta recipe, enjoy it with a light, fruity Riesling, to bring out the briny scallops and creamy sauce. You could even go bold with a Müller-Thurgau, a white wine that will stand up to heartier pasta dishes like this one.
- 2016 Ridgecrest Riesling by Chehalem Wines
- 2017 Sokol Blosser Müller-Thurgau
Seared Scallops with Pasta and Creamy Lemon Garlic Sauce
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil starts sizzling a little, add the scallops in a single layer.
- Season scallops with salt and pepper on each side and sear for 2-3 minutes per side. When scallops have a golden brown crust and are cooked, remove from heat and set aside on a plate.
- Bring the heat down to low-medium. Add the vegan butter and scrape brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and, stirring constantly, sauté until softened, just for 1-2 minutes.
- Add wine and cook for about 2 minutes. Bring heat up to medium, add the coconut milk, and bring to a low boil and simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add lemon juice, and stir. For more lemon flavor, you can grate in lemon zest. Return scallops to the pan, turn off the heat and stir in the cooked pasta with a little pasta water. Sprinkle with parsley.
- Serve with a side of pasta.
Nutrition information is a general estimate. Actual nutrition details may vary depending on the exact foods & brands you use to make this recipe. It does not take into account any substitutions, toppings, or optional ingredients.