This creamy, yet light Scallop Pasta is a true taste of summer! It’s made with our favorite DeLallo Orzo, which has the best texture, features fresh summer corn, sweet, chewy sun dried tomatoes, and crispy pan fried capers that add texture and a briny burst of flavor.
It’s a truly balanced pasta recipe! You get a sweetness from the sea scallops and sun dried tomatoes that is a perfect contrast to the briny capers and the herbaceous basil pesto. When you get a little bite of everything together, it’s a pure delight!
As with most orzo pasta salads, you can serve this warm or at room temperature. We think it’s best when the scallops come straight outta the pan, screaming hot and with a deep golden crust.
Ingredients For Scallop Pasta With Pesto And Corn
- Sea scallops: While you can certainly use bay scallops, we find the larger sea scallops easier to sear
- DeLallo Orzo: DeLallo also makes a whole wheat orzo, as well as a gluten free orzo!
- DeLallo Nonpareil Capers: These give the orzo pasta salad a briny flavor-packed boost!
- Cornstarch: This is the dredge used for pan frying the capers.
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: To season everything!
- Fresh corn: Remove the husks and any silk, then use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob.
- DeLallo Sun-Dried Tomatoes: These add a much needed sweetness that cuts through the briny capers. If you are not a fan of sun dried tomatoes, replace with roasted red peppers. You really need that sweet flavor in there somewhere!
- Fresh lemon zest and lemon juice: This will brighten and round out the dish, plus lemon and seafood pair together beautifully (pretty much always!). If you have a bottle of white wine open, you can use a splash of this instead (or in addition to!).
- DeLallo Simply Pesto: A traditional basil pesto with pine nuts, cashews, garlic, Pecorino Romano, and Parmigiano Reggiano. A fantastic way to add a bright, herby flavor!
- Mascarpone: The mascarpone cheese adds a creamy, velvety texture to the scallop pasta without adding heavy cream.
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano: We rarely finish pasta without a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese either mixed in on top. Usually both!
How To Make Crispy Fried Capers
What do capers taste like? If you’re not familiar with capers, they are small little berries that have a similar briny flavor as olives, but with a lemony tang. They pack a ton of flavor for being so small! We add them to lots of recipes, including spicy crab pasta, salmon piccata, or chicken puttanesca. All delicious, and all benefit from a burst of tangy, salty flavor!
Here, we’re crisping them up so that they add not only flavor, but texture as well.
To make crispy fried capers, first drain them and pat dry with a paper towel, then dredge in a couple tablespoons of cornstarch. Next, heat 3-4 tablespoons of neutral oil (grapeseed, avocado, canola, etc.) in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the dredged capers, shaking off as much excess cornstarch as possible before putting them in the oil, then cook for about 3 minutes until crispy. Drain the fried capers on a paper towel, then set aside until ready to serve.
You can keep any leftovers in a sealed tupperware on a countertop for up to 3 days, but they’re freshest (and crispiest!) on the first day. A little goes a long way!
How To Cook Scallops
Pan seared sea scallops are hands down our favorite protein to cook at home. We love them so much, we have a whole guide to help walk you through the steps to successfully getting that golden brown sear on your own! Here are the ‘must do’ steps to achieve this:
- Buy dry scallops, not wet scallops. The former are clean, fresh scallops with no injections, while the latter may have been plumped up with water to make them look larger. Those will never sear properly. Buy dry scallops!
- Dry on paper towels. Before attempting to sear, remove as much excess moisture as possible. Dry the scallops for at least 10-15 minutes on a paper towel lined plate, with a second paper towel pressed lightly on top.
- Use cast iron or stainless steel, not nonstick. You literally want the scallops to stick to the pan, that’s how they’ll form the crust! Nonstick will not heat as evenly, nor will it allow you to get a crispy crust on the scallops.
- Don’t flip until the crust has formed. You want to cook the scallops over high heat in a screaming hot pan. Do not flip them until they release easily from the skillet and have a golden brown crust. You can cook them longer on the first side, and shorter on the second to avoid over cooking!
- Finish with butter!. This is optional, but browned butter scallops are a whole vibe. The natural sweetness from scallops pairs beautifully with nutty browned butter, and it takes them over the top. You will not regret a few tablespoons of butter once you flip them!
Why are some of my scallops pink? If you look at the picture below, you’ll see one large scallop that is a pink or peach color. That’s a female scallop! The only difference in addition to the slight variation in hue from male scallops is that females tend to be slightly sweeter. They cook exactly the same and are perfectly fine to eat. So next time you see a peach colored scallop, you’ll know what’s what!
Best Side Dishes For Scallop Pasta With Corn
How Long Will This Orzo Pasta Salad Keep?
Pastas will generally keep for 5 days in a refrigerator, and this is no different. Certainly the cooked scallops will be best within a few days (and they’ll never have as crispy a crust as they do immediately after cooking), but we often find that pastas taste even better the next day! The flavors have had a chance to meld.
Tips For The Best Scallop Pasta
- Follow our best tips for how to cook sea scallops. We go through everything form how to clean them, to drying them properly, and the best pans for getting a golden crust!
- Do not skip the sun dried tomatoes! If you’re adding the crispy fried capers, you need the sweetness from the scallops and the sun dried tomatoes to cut that salty brininess. They are the perfect addition!
- If possible, use fresh corn! When corn is in season, it has such a sweet, vibrant flavor.
- Be generous with the pesto! We adore DeLallo’s pesto, and it is a life saver for adding to all kinds of dishes. It adds a subtle, herbaceous basil flavor throughout the orzo pasta salad that we just love. Certainly you can use homemade pesto as well. Some of our favorites are walnut pesto, ramp pesto, and arugula pesto! Don’t have pesto? Stir in some chopped fresh basil or parsley when mixing everything together.
- Finish everything in one pot with reserved cooking liquid from the pasta! The starches in there will help to thicken the sauce, creating a creamier, luscious orzo pasta.
- Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper before serving. That little bit of extra seasoning will take the flavors over the top! We finish most dishes this way.
This sweet, creamy orzo pasta salad is a seafood lovers dream come true! Be sure to save it for later, this is one you do not want to miss out on!
If you make this Scallop Pasta recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
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More pasta recipes to try!
- Chicken Marsala Pasta
- Rigatoni Bolognese
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Caramelized Shallot Pasta
- Lemon Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Scallops
Creamy Scallop Pasta With Corn and Pesto
- 1 lb sea scallops side muscle removed and discarded
- 1 lb DeLallo Orzo
- ¼ cup DeLallo Nonpareil Capers drained
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 6 Tbsp neutral oil such as grapeseed, avocado, canola, or vegetable oil, divided
- 1 ½ tsp Kosher salt divided, plus more for cooking pasta
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper plus more for serving
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
- 2 ears corn kernels cut off the cob, about 2 cups
- ⅓ cup DeLallo Sun-Dried Tomatoes julienned or roughly chopped
- 3 Tbsp DeLallo Simply Pesto
- 1 medium lemon zested and juiced
- ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese
- ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
- Flaky sea salt for serving
- Dry the scallops. Place cleaned sea scallops on a paper towel-lined plate, then place a second paper towel on top, pressing down lightly. Dry for at least 10-15 minutes to remove as much excess moisture as possible. When you remove the paper towels, season scallops on both sides with 1 tsp Kosher salt and ¼ tsp black pepper.
- Cook the orzo pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil, then season generously with Kosher salt (about 3-4 Tbsp). Add the DeLallo Orzo, then cook according to package directions for al dente, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain and set aside. Return the pot to the stove.
- Dredge the capers. Place ¼ cup of drained DeLallo Nonpareil Capers in a small mixing bowl, then toss with 2 Tbsp cornstarch to thoroughly coat.
- Fry the capers. In a small skillet, heat 3 Tbsp neutral oil over medium-high heat. When hot, use a slotted spoon or spider to carefully transfer the dredged capers to the skillet, shaking off as much excess cornstarch as possible. Fry for about 3 minutes, or until crispy. Drain on a small plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Sauté the corn. In the large pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes. Season with remaining ½ tsp Kosher salt, then add ⅓ cup chopped sun dried tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute more.
- Finish the pasta. Add the drained orzo pasta to the corn, then add 3 Tbsp DeLallo Simply Pesto, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, ⅓ cup mascarpone cheese, and ¼ cup of grated Parmesan. Add ½ cup of the reserved pasta water, then stir well, tasting to adjust seasoning as needed. If you want more of a sauce, add more reserved pasta water. Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.
- Cook the scallops. Heat a large cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat. When very hot, add remaining 3 Tbsp neutral oil. Carefully place the seasoned scallops in the hot skillet, leaving about 1-inch between each. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the scallops have developed a deep golden brown crust. Add 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, then use tongs to carefully (and quickly) flip each scallop over. Cook for 1 minute more, using a spoon to baste the scallops with browned butter as they cook.
- Finish, then serve. Transfer the seared scallops on top of the pasta, then pour any remaining browned butter from the skillet on top. Garnish with the crispy fried capers, a generous pinch of flaky sea salt, and additional ground black pepper, if wanted. Serve immediately!
- Be sure to check out our complete guide on how to cook sea scallops! Our biggest tips are to not skip the drying step, and also do not flip the scallops until they release easily from the pan and have developed a deep brown crust.
- If omitting the sun dried tomatoes, you’ll want to substitute with something else sweet and acidic — like roasted red peppers — to counter the salty, briny fried capers.
- Leftovers will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container, but seafood is always best enjoyed fresh.