Creamy Mozzarella Scallop Pasta is one of the best pasta recipes you’ll ever try! Finger-licking good, easy-to-make, and your scallops will have the perfect texture!
My favorite way to cook scallops is to sear them in olive oil or butter on the stovetop in the skillet. What you get are beautifully pan-seared scallops with a golden crust and a soft texture. This is exactly what I’ve done in this scallop pasta recipe. I seared the scallops to perfection and served them with pasta.
Scallops always go really well with a cream sauce so I combined my favorite cream sauce (made with Mozzarella cheese, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and red pepper flakes) with scallops and penne pasta! This scallop pasta makes a delicious weeknight dinner that’s easy to make but looks like a dish from a high-end restaurant!
Is it best to use frozen or thawed scallops?
I found that it doesn’t matter. If you find fresh scallops – it’s great, they are delicious! But I’ve used frozen scallops so many times and they taste so good, I now almost always use frozen ones. Just be sure to thaw them properly.
How to prepare scallops:
- If using frozen scallops, make sure the scallops are thawed completely. I thaw them overnight in the refrigerator.
- Blot each scallop with paper towels to remove extra water.
- Bring scallops to room temperature before cooking, by allowing them to sit on a plate on the counter for 30 minutes before cooking. In this pasta dish, I cook scallops last (after making the pasta and the sauce).
How to cook scallops:
- Season with salt by sprinkling each scallop with a dash of salt.
- Use a large, non-stick skillet (I used stainless steel skillet which works well for me as non-stick). Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in this non-stick skillet on high heat until hot but not smoking. Oil should not be smoking, just rolling easily around the skillet.
- Add scallops without overcrowding the pan.
- Sear on one side for about 3-4 minutes until the bottom is a nice golden color. Don’t move the scallops around the pan in the beginning.
- Turn the scallops to the other side and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and transfer the scallops to the plate immediately. Don’t let the scallops sit in the hot skillet, off heat, because they will start to steam, lose their crust and harden up.
- Don’t cook the scallops first. Cook them last. Note that I cook the pasta and the cream sauce first before I cook the scallops. This ensures that scallops are not over-cooked and that they don’t taste rubbery (which often happens if you overcook them).
- And that’s the rule you should follow not only when you’re serving scallop pasta. Whenever you cook scallops in general, cook all the side dishes first. Cook the scallops last, right before you’re ready to serve.
What to serve with scallops?
In this recipe, I combine pan-seared scallops with the creamy pasta to create a completely different scallop recipe from the ones I published previously. This recipe is all about the scallops and the creamy pasta made with the Mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes.
I use penne pasta that goes great with scallops. Penne is a short pasta, so the cream sauce coats every bite. You can also use spaghetti, fettuccine, or angel hair pasta.
If you want something other than pasta, seared scallops go great with mashed potatoes, rice, roasted asparagus, and other roasted veggies.
I hope you will enjoy this delicious scallop pasta!
Creamy Mozzarella Scallop Pasta is one of the best scallop recipes you'll ever try! The pasta cream sauce is made with Mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Finger-licking good, easy-to-make, and your scallops will have the perfect texture!
- 8 oz penne pasta (for gluten free version, use gluten free brown rice pasta)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes , without oil
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese , shredded (do not use fresh Mozzarella, use pre-shredded Mozzarella)
- 1 tablespoon dried basil , if using fresh basil you can add more
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes , crushed, add more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 cup reserved cooked pasta water or more
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound scallops , medium size, about 12-14 scallops, thawed completely if frozen
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
If using frozen scallops, make sure the scallops are thawed completely.
Blot each scallop with paper towels to remove extra water. Set them aside on a plate while you prepare the pasta and the sauce. You will cook scallops last to make sure they are not over-cooked.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Reserve some cooked pasta water. Drain the pasta.
Note: if using sun-dried tomatoes in oil (in a jar), make sure to drain sun-dried tomatoes from oil, before using them.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil (you can use the reserved olive oil from the sun-dried tomatoes jar, or use regular olive oil) in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add sun-dried tomatoes (drained from oil and sliced into smaller chunks, if needed) and minced garlic, and saute on medium heat, stirring, for 2 minutes until the garlic is fragrant. The skillet should be hot.
Add half and half to the hot skillet with sun-dried tomatoes and bring to boil. Add shredded cheese to the skillet, and stir in while boiling. Immediately reduce to simmer and cook, constantly stirring, until all the cheese melts and the creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of half and half or reserved cooked pasta water. Add basil, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika. Stir.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt gradually, stirring on low heat and tasting (you might need slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon).
Add cooked pasta to the sauce, and reheat gently on medium heat. Taste, and add more salt, if needed. Add a small amount of half and half or reserved cooked pasta water, if the sauce is too thick. Let everything simmer on low heat for a couple of minutes for flavors to combine.
Season with salt by sprinkling each scallop with a dash of salt.
Use a large, non-stick skillet (I used stainless steel skillet which works well for me as non-stick). Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in this non-stick skillet on high heat until hot but not smoking. Oil should not be smoking, just rolling easily around the skillet.
Add scallops without overcrowding the pan. Sear on one side for about 3-4 minutes until the bottom is nice golden color. Don't move the scallops around the pan in the beginning.
Turn the scallops to the other side and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and transfer the scallops to the plate immediately. Don't let the scallops sit in the hot skillet, off heat, because they will start to steam, lose their crust and harden up.
Add cooked scallops to the pasta and the cream sauce and reheat gently. Serve.
Note: Make sure to salt the dish just enough to bring out of the flavors of basil and sun-dried tomatoes.
- What is half-and-half? To make 1 cup of half and half do this: combine 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup heavy, or whipping cream.
- Do not use fresh Mozzarella. Fresh Mozzarella is usually sold as a large ball or small balls in a brine or water solution. Do not shred fresh Mozzarella. Use Part-Skim, Low-Moisture Mozzarella cheese sold in blocks or pre-shredded.