Scallop Spaghetti

By: Hannah Lee Leidy
Seared scallops with pesto pasta and lemon cream sauce

Bruce Moffett, a New England, fell in love with the South and the region’s cooking styles. At his four Charlotte-based restaurants Good Food on Montford, Barrington’s, Stagioni, and NC•RED, he fuses New England dishes and Southern cooking styles. When asked what dish he would want to make his mom for Mother’s Day, he pointed to his seared scallops with pasta, basil pesto, and lemon cream sauce.

He says, “This dish is personal to me. It was the first composed dish I made for my mother upon enrolling in culinary school. I wanted to make a plate that captured summer and showed off what I had learned.”

Moffett recommends purchasing dry-pack scallops because they sear the best. Wet scallops are treated with a water solution and a preservative called tripolyphosphate, which can make the scallopsretain water, which alters the flavor and jeopardizes the perfect sear.

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Serves 5

    Tomato Confit
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cups cherry or golden tomatoes
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon crushed chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pasta
  • 1 tablespoon plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating the cooked pasta
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Scallops
  • 1½ pounds 10 dry-pack scallops
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
  • Lemon Cream Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 recipe TLP’s Basil Pesto

Make the tomato confit

  1. Combine the olive oil and garlic in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Heat until the garlic gets a touch of color, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes (they might spit due to their high water content) and cook them until they blister, about 4 minutes.
  2. Tie the herbs together with the twine and add them to the pot, along with the chili flakes, black pepper, and salt. Turn off the heat, stir the mixture together, and let it rest. Discard the herbs. Set aside.

Make the pasta

  1. Bring a pot of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon of the salt to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan with the olive oil over high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the corn and season with the remaining salt and the pepper. Cook for 2 minutes, or long enough to add a touch of color, then set aside.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, rinse it under cold water, and toss it with olive oil to prevent sticking. Hold at room temperature.

Make the scallops

  1. Pat the scallops dry with a paper towel and season them with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add the scallops in a single layer (working in batches if necessary) and sear them until they are golden, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip them gently and sear for 2 minutes more.
  3. Transfer the scallops to a plate lined with paper towels. Remove the excess oil from the pan and return it to the stovetop.

Make the lemon cream sauce

  1. In the pan used to cook scallops, add 1 tablespoon of the butter, along with the shallots, thyme, salt, and white pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until the shallots have softened. Add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the contents reduce by half, then whisk in the cream. Return the sauce to a boil, then whisk in the remaining butter.

Basil pesto recipe here.


Using your hands, toss a portion of the pesto with the pasta, then add the tomatoes and corn and toss again. Add more pesto, if desired. Place into a large pasta bowl or 4 individual bowls, then spoon the lemon cream sauce around the perimeter. Place the scallops on top of the pasta (or 3 scallops per person, if plating individually), and spoon the tomato confit over the top

  • Created by Bruce Moffett, of Moffett Restaurant Group, Charlotte, North Carolina

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