Fetuccini with Seared Scallops in a Lemon-Garlic Cream Sauce

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Every week at the farmer’s market, I see the fish vendor. I always stop and look at chalkboard list of products and prices. The line almost always stretches around the back of his truck. My usual thought is that I don’t have enough cash to buy anything and, anyway, Angela doesn’t like fish so it’s not really worth it.

Before we left for the market, Angela had asked if we could have shrimp for dinner. I had some frozen shrimp in the freezer but they wouldn’t easily defrost in time and I don’t particularly relish force defrosting shrimp (although it can be done). So, when I came to the farmer’s market this week, and saw that not only was the fish vendor selling jumbo shrimp but that also his line was relatively short (and I had extra cash), I had to get in line and buy some.

A patron in line ahead of me ordered some scallops. In fact, he thought he was buying all the scallops: he wanted about 12 and that’s how many the vendor thought were left. Instead, the fish vendor had mis-estimated how many were left. So I decided that this week they were also going to be mine.

When I presented my acquisitions to Angela, she decided that the shrimp would wait until the next day and she wanted them seared in a cream sauce. I had never made such a dish but it sounded good to me so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I usually cook from recipes. Occasionally, I’ll try and improvise. Unfortunately, it’s usually a bit disappointing when I do. So I have an aversion to improvisation. Particularly when it comes to expensive ingredients as I don’t want to waste the money.

With this recipe (I wanted to say today but I made this on Sunday), I may have finally broken the streak. To be fair, this isn’t particularly complicated or difficult recipe. But I am pleased with it.

Neither the garlic nor the lemon are overpowering. It didn’t hurt that we had high quality scallops (better than frozen at least). And the sauce went well with the pasta.

Angela would have liked her scallops a bit more seared but it may require a switch to clarified butter to actually make that happen.

The serving range is a bit large as the two of us ate all of the recipe but it could easily be served to four if they aren’t particularly hungry. But it’s good enough for two to eat the entirety.

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Fetuccini with Seared Scallops in a Lemon-Garlic Cream Sauce

1 lbs. large scallops
salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine
1 cup heavy cream
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp diced Italian parsley
1 lbs. fresh fettuccini, preferably homemade

  1. Remove the small muscle attached to the scallop and discard. Dry the scallops in paper towels thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has stopped foaming, add the scallops. Sear the scallops in the butter on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove the scallops to a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
  3. Reduce heat of the skillet to medium and add the garlic. Sauté the garlic until it is golden, about 1 minute.
  4. Deglaze the skillet with the vermouth or wine. Increase heat to high and boil down the vermouth until it is reduced by half.
  5. Add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Simmer the heavy cream until it is thickened. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and add the lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until it is just undercooked.
  7. Return the scallops to the skillet and add the parsley. Toss the sauce with the scallops until they are well coated.
  8. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and add it to the skillet.
  9. Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 1 minute more.
  10. Serve immediately.

Serves 2-4.

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9 Responses to “Fetuccini with Seared Scallops in a Lemon-Garlic Cream Sauce”


  1. 1 Hillary February 1, 2008 at 11:33 am

    You had me at seared scallops.

  2. 2 Matt February 1, 2008 at 11:41 am

    I think that may be the first time I’ve been compared to Tom Cruise…

  3. 3 DocChuck February 7, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    The lemon doesn’t do much for me, sorry.

  4. 4 Deborah Dowd February 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    I love scallops and this sounds like a delicious way to prepare them! Maybe I will incorporate these into my Valentine’s day menu!

  5. 5 Matt February 11, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    It would probably go well on Valentine’s Day (or any day really). Just make sure to use good scallops. You could also probably easily get away with using less scallops.

  6. 6 Tina Seeley Forbrich February 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I made this dish last week exactly as directed and I just had to tell you it was FANTASTIC! This is a keeper…Thanks

  7. 7 Anne July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    This was fantastic! Will be making this again

  8. 8 alfredwells@comcast.net September 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    Great recipe – have used several times – one recommendation to others – buy your scallops “dry” (as opposed to “wet” which means chemically treated). They cost a bit more, but not that much, and taste much better. Most good grocers (e.g. Whole Foods, Fresh Market, etc.) will know if their scallops are wet or dry.

  9. 9 Girlnowander January 5, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I made this today. I was out of heavy cream substituted it w/ whip cream and was out of white wine so I used red.. It turned out Fab….


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