Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Seared Scallops with Orange Sauce and Pasta #Recipe by Leslie Karst

I adore scallops. And they’re one of the simplest foods to cook: You simply sear them quickly on each side and serve them with a pan sauce made with butter and the addition of whatever deglazing liquid strikes your fancy. This dish was inspired by the last of the season’s blood oranges on my tree, but would work just as well with regular oranges, or even grapefruit juice.


The trick is to not overcook the delectable scallops. Start with a very hot pan and fry them only long enough to brown, then flip and let them cook only another thirty seconds-to-a-minute. They should be warm throughout, but the center should be close to raw—otherwise they get tough. (If you use fresh rather than frozen scallops, simply add more of the pasta water at the end to make up for not having the juice from the thawed scallops.)

Seared Scallops with Orange Sauce and Pasta

(serves 2)

8 large scallops, frozen

salt, black pepper, and garlic powder

¼ pound dried fettuccine or other pasta (or more, if you’re big pasta eaters)

1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola

4 tablespoons butter

½ cup orange juice

¼ cup scallop juice (reserved from thawed scallops)

parsley, for garnish


(The glass jar on the right is a citrus-flavored salt)


Thaw the scallops in a bowl, then pat dry, retaining the liquid (mine came out to about ¼ cup).

Get a large pot of salted (1T) water boiling. Add the pasta and cook till done, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking together.


While the pasta is cooking, prepare the scallops and sauce: Sprinkle the scallops with salt, black pepper, and a little garlic powder on both sides.


Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, and once very hot, add the oil.

As soon as the oil is shimmering, place the scallops in the pan and fry until a golden brown, then flip. 


Cook scallops 30-60 seconds more, then remove from pan to a plate with a paper towel.


Lower the heat under the pan to medium and add the butter. 


Next, add the scallop water and the orange juice, then stir, making sure you scrape the bottom to incorporate all those lovely bits of scallop stuck to the pan.


Drain the cooked pasta, retaining ½ cup of the pasta water. Pour the orange/butter sauce over the pasta and stir to mix. If the pasta seems too dry, add some of the reserved pasta water until it’s the right consistency.

Place a serving of pasta on each plate, then top with the scallops. Garnish with chopped parsley. (See photo at top.)


The daughter of a law professor and a potter, Leslie Karst learned early, during family dinner conversations, the value of both careful analysis and the arts—ideal ingredients for a mystery story. Putting this early education to good use, she now writes the Sally Solari Mysteries, a culinary series set in Santa Cruz, California. An ex-lawyer like her sleuth, Leslie also has degrees in English literature and the culinary arts. She and her wife and their Jack Russell mix split their time between Santa Cruz and Hilo, Hawai‘i.


Leslie’s website
Leslie also blogs with Chicks on the Case
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Praise for Leslie's most recent Sally Solari mystery, MURDER FROM SCRATCH:
“Karst seasons her writing with an accurate insider’s view of restaurant operation, as well as a tenderness in the way she treats family, death and Sally’s reactions to Evelyn’s blindness.”

Ellery Queen Magazine

All four Sally Solari Mysteries are available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.



  1. I agree, scallops are delicious. A nearby restaurant serves scallops limoncello on risotto with some veggies and capers. The scallops are tender and sweet and the sauce is so, so good. I would love to make this at home, but did not know where to start. Your comment about using a liquid to deglaze the pan is helpful. I am going to buy some limoncello and start experimenting. Thanks for the hint.

    1. Yes, I felt as if a whole new world of cooking had opened up to me when I learned the secret of deglazing the pan after cooking to make the sauce! So glad to be of help!

  2. Looks delightful! Thank you for always including step-by-step pictures. It is very helpful.

  3. Mmm, I'm the only one in my family that enjoys scallops so I've never cooked them before. But this recipe looks so easy and delicious. Think I might have to try it and savor a last bite of summer before it gets really cold. Thanks!

    1. Yes, do try it! You'll be amazing at how easy and delicious it is! (And, truly, you can never go wrong with something that includes butter...)

  4. Your orange juice is a marvelous color.
    Scallops are amazingly rich and unctuous.

    1. Gotta love blood oranges! And yes they are--unctuous is a great word for them!

  5. I love scallops, but I've never cooked them before. Now I think I should!

  6. Here is an Idea to work on: Chicken Tenders Grilled (with grill marks) with wild rice and red bell peppers in a country gravy (Mccormick's) served over angel hair pasta or some other pasta.