The perfect seasonal scallop pasta dish featuring fresh zucchini and basil. Use zucchini to create a healthy yet delicious pasta sauce for this summery dish!
We’re closing out on summer (unfortunately), so we have to end with this delicious zucchini pasta. No, these are not zoodles because I like my carbs. Instead, zucchini is incorporated into the sauce as a thickener and also adds texture to the dish! The magic is in mashing the zucchini halfway through cooking so that it becomes a chunky sauce. Add in some butter and parmesan to the sauce, top with fresh basil, and you have yourself a hearty summer pasta dish.
This pasta is light, bright, and isn’t cloyingly rich like other traditional pastas. I normally can’t eat pasta as an entire meal but this dish hit every element of a balanced meal. Cheers to summer!
How to Make It
Pasta and Sauce
I chose to use linguine but this dish works well with any type of thin, long noodle. Boil pasta in salted water according to directions; then drain and set aside, making sure to reserve some pasta water for the sauce later on.
In a large skillet, cook chopped zucchini, minced garlic, and dried thyme. I chose to leave the skin on the zucchini as it posed no issue to any part of the dish. Additionally, zucchini can be easily substituted with yellow squash or any other summer squash.
Season to taste and mash 3/4 of the zucchini until it forms a chunky sauce. You can choose to mash more or less depending on how many zucchini chunks you want to leave in your pasta. This forms the base of your pasta sauce.
After the scallops are seared, add reserved water to the zucchini sauce pana nd bring mixture to a boil. Add in butter and parmesan and cook until melted, around 2 minutes. Lastly, turn off the heat and add in pasta and chopped basil, mix to coat the pasta in sauce. Divide onto plates and top with seared scallops. Serve with parmesan and fresh basil.
The real highlight of this dish is the ~perfectly~ seared scallops. This method of cooking encases the delicate flavor in a hard sear, crisping up the edges and leaving the middle tender. Furthermore, using a grill (pan) or cast-iron is best to get that desirable char. I used this for reference on how to sear scallops.
Essentially, you want a really hot pan and really dry scallops. To prepare scallops, be sure to remove the side muscle and rinse. Using paper towels, thoroughly dry the scallops and then season. Once the pan is hot, add scallops in an even layer (cook in batches if necessary). Sear for about 1 minute on each side, depending on the size of your scallops. It’s better to undercook because scallops *can* be eaten raw.
There are also so many ways to adapt this easy scallop pasta dish so let me know if you try it out!
Zucchini Pasta with Seared Scallops
- 1 lb pasta of your choice I used linguine
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 medium zucchini
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp unsalted buter
- 1 cup parmesan or any hard, aged cheese
- ½ cup fresh basil, chopped or torn
- 1 lb scallops, patted dry
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Heat a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions. Drain and rinse under cold water to halt cooking. Reserve ¼ cup pasta water for the sauce.
- Chop zucchini into quarters lengthwise, then into ½ inch slices – no need to peel. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add chopped zucchini, garlic, and thyme. Let cook until zucchini is soft and golden, around 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mash ¾ of the zucchini in the pan using a potato masher or wooden spoon until the mixture becomes saucy.
- While zucchini is cooking, sear the scallops. Make sure that scallops are thoroughly dried to ensure a sear. Salt scallops and heat oil in a cast iron skillet (or nonstick) over high heat. Once the pan is hot, add scallops in an even layer (cook in batches if necessary). Sear for about 1 minute on each side, depending on the size of your scallops. Remove to a plate.
- Add reserved pasta water to zucchini and bring mixture to a boil. Add in butter and parmesan and cook until melted, around 2 minutes. Lastly, turn off the heat and add in pasta and chopped basil, mix to coat the pasta in sauce. Divide onto plates and top with seared scallops. Serve with parmesan and fresh basil.