What To Serve With Scallops? 14 Quick & Easy Side Dishes
Scallops cook very quickly, which makes them a great meal for weeknight dinners. They are also an ideal dish for serving with various side dishes.
One of the most delicate of all seafoods, scallops are a specialty on restaurant menus around the world. They have a distinctive flavor and texture that sets them apart.
The most classic way to serve scallops is to give them a quick pan-sear – but they can also be served in a variety of other ways.
This includes grilling and stuffing them, frying and broiling them, serving them with steak, and wrapping them in bacon.
But what should you serve with scallops? There are just as many great accompaniments for scallops as there are ways to prepare them.
First Off, What Is A Scallop?
Scallops are mollusks that live on the ocean floor. They live in shells that have a ruffled edge and move through the water by pushing water through the shell. When removed from their shell, scallops look like small, white disks.
There are several different varieties of scallops, but the two primary kinds are sea scallops and bay scallops.
Sea scallops are the largest type of scallop, measuring up to 2-inches in diameter. Available throughout the year, these are the scallops that you’ll see most often in the store.
Bay scallops are a smaller variety that are only available from October to March. Bay scallops are sweeter than sea scallops, making them even more of a delicacy.
What Do Scallops Taste Like?
Scallops have a lovely sweet and tender taste. When cooked correctly, they have a rich and buttery flavor that always makes them the star of the dish.
When choosing scallops at the store, there are few things to look for:
Now that we know what a scallop is, and what it tastes like, let's find out how to cook them. Shall we?
Warning! Don't Overcook Scallops!!!
Before we get into what to serve with scallops, we're going to give one word of advice.
Don't overcook the scallops!
Scallops are quite versatile to cook and can be prepared in just a few minutes. One thing to note is that no matter what the recipe, take care not to overcook them.
When overcooked, scallops become tough, rubbery, and chewy.
Now that we got that warning out of the way, let's take a look at what we can serve with the scallops. We've broken this down into these categories:
- What to serve with seared scallops
- What to serve with bacon wrapped scallops
- What to serve with scallops as a main course
- What to serve with scallops grilled scallops
- What to serve with scallops for dinner
- What to serve with scallops as a starter
What To Serve With Seared Scallops
Cooking scallops lightly seared is a classic way to serve them. It takes only a few minutes to sear scallops, cooking them to perfection with a golden brown crust. A trick for the perfect sear is to make sure the scallops are completely dry before putting them into the pan.
Any extra liquid will affect the way the scallop cooks, making them tough and pale rather than tender and soft.
What you'll need:
- A frying pan (non-stick, ceramic, cast iron or stainless steel)
- Cooking oil or butter
- Freshest scallops you can find
Here's how to sear scallops:
- Always add oil to the pan first and then heat to medium before adding the scallops.
- Cook them in batches and don’t be tempted to turn them over too soon.
- Wait for 2 to 3 minutes so the scallop is almost firm before turning and searing the other side.
- Using the tongs, press down on the the scallops occasionally like a steak. You want it cooked to medium.
When seared, scallops are often served with linguine. But there are some other tasty ways to lighten up the dish, such as serving seared scallops with sautéed vegetables and skipping the carbs.
Scallops With Spinach, Chard, and Leeks
A bed of greens is both a tasty and colorful way to serve scallops. Lightly sauté baby spinach, chard, and thinly sliced leeks in olive oil, seasoning with just a bit of salt and pepper.
- In another pan, cook the scallops – both dishes should be done at the same time.
- Nestle 4 or 5 scallops on top of the greens for a light meal.
Grilled Vegetables and Seared Scallops
Serving grilled vegetables is another good way to serve a light meal for either lunch or dinner. Cook them up in your favorite grill pan.
- Since the scallops will cook up quickly, start grilling thicker slices of vegetables about 30 minutes before putting scallops in a pan.
- Great vegetable options include eggplant and whole tomatoes cut in half.
- Season with olive oil, salt, and fresh herbs such as basil or oregano. Red peppers, zucchini, and mushrooms also pair well with scallops. If you don’t have an outdoor grill, simply roast vegetables in the oven.
- Alternately, you could cook the scallops on the grill alongside the veggies.
What To Serve With Bacon Wrapped Scallops
You’ll often see this recipe in fine restaurants – scallops wrapped in bacon. Bacon wrapped scallops are often served on their own as an appetizer.
The fat from the bacon cooks scallops to perfection, leaving them tender and rich in taste. You can prepare bacon wrapped scallops ahead of time – on the day of, make ahead and when cool simply wrap and store in the fridge. Before serving, give them a quick warm up under the broiler to heat, allowing the fat from the bacon to come out again.
What you'll need:
- A strip of bacon for each scallop
- Two toothpicks for each scallop
- Fresh scallops
- Drops of olive oil
- A Broiler
How to make bacon wrapped scallops:
- To bake, just wrap each scallop in a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
- Place on a baking pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, seasoning with just a small amount of salt and pepper.
- Cook underneath the broiler for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning once so both sides are nicely browned.
Bacon Wrapped Scallops With a Spicy Mayo (Our Favorite)
When serving bacon wrapped scallops as an appetizer, serve a spicy mayo on the side for dipping.
- To make the dip simply combine 1 cup of full-fat mayonnaise with 2 tbsp. ground chili paste, the juice of one lime, and 2 tbsp. of chopped fresh cilantro.
- Mix well and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to bring out the taste of the chili and cilantro.
Corn Couscous and Bacon Wrapped Scallops
Bacon wrapped scallops also go nicely as a main dish, served alongside a couscous.
- Prepare couscous according to the package directions. In a separate pan, sauté finely chopped red onion and 1 chopped red pepper for 10 minutes until soft. Add 1 cup of frozen corn and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Gently stir in the juice of one lemon and 1 tbsp. of chopped parsley. Serve warm on a plate, topped with 3 or 4 bacon wrapped scallops.
What To Serve Sea Scallops As a Starter
The lightness of scallops makes them ideal as a starter to any meal. They can set the tone for a great dinner when you want to impress guests.
Spicy Mango Scallops
For this recipe, sea scallops are better than the smaller bay scallop. The sweet and spicy combination of flavors really brings out the delicate taste of scallops.
- Sear scallops in a pan and remove to keep warm. In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and add 1 medium chopped red onion - cook until tender.
- Add 1 minced garlic clove and ¼ tsp. of red pepper flakes. Cook 1 minute and then add ½ cup of unsweetened pineapple juice.
- Bring to a boil and let the liquid reduce to half.
- Stir in ¼ cup of mango chutney. Heat through.
- Plate the scallops and serve with the sauce poured on top for a starter dish.
- You can also serve with a side of basmati rice for a full meal.
Breaded Sea Scallops
Another good starter dish is breaded sea scallops. Beat one egg in a bowl.
- In another bowl mix together ¼ cup mashed potato flakes, ¼ cup fine bread crumbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss 6 sea scallops with 2 tbsp. of flour to lightly coat.
- Dip them in the egg and then into the bowl with the crumbs, tossing gently to coat.
- Add 2 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. oil to a skillet, heat to medium.
- Add the scallops and sauté until golden, flipping after 2 minutes to brown both sides.
- Serve as is or with a dipping sauce made with mayo, sweet chili sauce, and a bit of lime juice.
What To Serve With Scallops As A Main Course
You don’t need to get fancy when serving scallops – they go with almost anything and are perfect when served as a main course.
Creamy Lemon Butter Sauce Over Seared Scallops
A creamy lemon butter sauce adds a nice tangy flavor to scallops. Cook the scallops first, removing from the pan when cooked to perfection.
- To make the sauce, melt 2 tbsp. of butter in the same pan you cooked the scallops.
- Add 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the juice of one lemon and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, pouring over the scallops.
Baked Scallops Au Gratin
Baking scallops is a tasty and quick way to get a main course on the table in no time at all.
- Pat-dry ½ pound of sea or bay scallops and place in a single layer in a baking dish.
- In a separate bowl combine ½ cup of panko or Japanese bread crumbs, 2 tbsp. of melted butter, 1 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice, 1 minced garlic clove, salt, and pepper.
- Sprinkle over the scallops and bake for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
- You’ll know the scallops are done when the au gratin is golden brown. Serve with jasmine rice and grilled vegetables.
What To Serve With Grilled Scallops
Grilling scallops outside on the BBQ is a great way to prepare seafood in the summer. Continue the theme of summer cooking by serving scallops with fresh vegetables. And grilling is easy!
Heat the grill to a medium-high. Season the scallops with salt and pepper – use an herb infused sea salt for some variety. When the grill is hot, place scallops gently on top, grilling for 4 minutes on one side. Flip over and grill until the scallops are opaque throughout. Transfer to a serving plate and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, chopped chives or parsley, and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Serve with a dash of lemon juice on top on their own or make the scallops the star in one of the following dishes.
Grilled Scallops With Citrus Vinaigrette
Prepare the vinaigrette ahead of time.
- Whisk together ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp. fresh squeezed orange or tangerine juice, 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, and salt to taste.
- While scallops are grilling, prepare salad – toss together red leaf lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, and sliced red onion.
- Place a portion on individual plates.
- Top with grilled scallops and pour 1 or 2 tbsp. of the citrus vinaigrette over the salad and scallops.
Who can resist a surf and turf - scallops and steak go nicely together and make a great summer meal.
- Prepare the scallops and steak before grilling, seasoning both with just a bit of salt and pepper. Considering adding a Cajun seasoning to the steak for a flavor twist.
- Depending on the grill you want on your steak, cook it a little before you place the scallops on the grill. When the steak has about 5 minutes left to grill, start grilling the scallops – your aim here is to have both ready at the same time.
- Serve grilled scallops and steak along with grilled asparagus and baby potatoes fresh from the garden.
What To Serve With Pan Seared Scallops
Pan-seared scallops will probably always remain a favorite both in restaurants and with home cooks. Easy to prepare in just a few minutes, pan-seared scallops go well with almost anything – especially with pasta and a lemon butter sauce.
Lemon Butter Sauce With Pan-seared Scallops and Pasta
Serving scallops with a lemon butter sauce is a sophisticated way to fancy up any meal. And serving scallops over pasta makes the meal complete.
- After pan-searing the scallops remove from pan to a plate and cover to keep warm.
- In the same pan add 1 tbsp. of butter and 3 tsp. of minced garlic. Cook for 1 minute on low.
- Turn the heat up to medium and stir in ½ cup of white wine.
- Simmer for about 3 minutes, until the wine is reduced by half.
- Add 1 cup chicken broth and 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, zest of 1 lemon, and 2 tbsp. capers.
- Cook for about 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add 1 tbsp. of butter, stirring to melt.
- Season with salt and pepper.
Add cooked angel hair pasta and sliced baby tomatoes. Cook to heat, stirring in 2 tbsp. of parmesan cheese and chopped parsley to finish. Serve topped with pea-seared scallops.
Pan-seared Scallop With a Warm Fruit Salsa
Try something a little different – scallops with a fruit salsa.
- Pan-sear the scallops and remove from the pan to keep warm.
- Remove any liquid from the pan and cook the fruit salsa.
- Have all of the ingredients chopped and prepared ahead of time.
- Heat 2 tsp. of olive oil in the pan. Add 1 garlic clove and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add 2 cups diced fresh pineapple, 1 ¼ cup chopped red pepper, ¼ cup white wine, and 2 tsp. soy sauce.
- Cook for 3 minutes, then stir in 1 tbsp. of fresh chopped mint.
- Pour over warm scallops and serve with a side of jasmine rice.
What To Serve With Scallops For Dinner
An ordinary dinner becomes a bit fancier when you’re serving scallops. These two easy recipes are a great way to make a quick dinner that’s light and tasty.
Bay Scallops Recipe With Linguini and Tomatoes
Prepare linguini ahead of time, draining well and leaving covered in the pot while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Pan grill the scallops, cooking in batches if needed – then plate and cover to keep warm. Using the same pan, heat 1 tbsp. of oil and sauté 3 cloves of chopped garlic for 1 minute.
- Add 15 to 20 baby tomatoes cut in half, ½ cup of white wine, salt, and pepper.
- Cook 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir in 1 tsp. of chopped fresh parsley and 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice.
- Gently add the scallops to the pan and heat through at low heat.
- Place linguini on individual plates and top with the sauce and scallops.
- Sprinkle with more fresh parsley and grated Parmigiano cheese.
Seared Scallops With Baby Potatoes and Snap Peas
Spring time means new potatoes and fresh snap peas – what better way to enjoy them both than with seared scallops. Toss new baby potatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Place in a baking dish and roast for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl combine ½ head of radicchio, ¼ cup of chopped black olives, 4 oz. of snap peas each cut in half, 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley, 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.
- Toss in potatoes when roasted. Sear the scallops and serve with the potato salad. The delicate flavor of the scallop pairs nicely with the crispness of the salad.
The Final Word On Scallops
With the versatility and ease of cooking scallops, and with so many foods and flavors to cook them with, scallops are sure to become a favorite in your kitchen.