Pan Seared Scallops with Linguine al Pesto

One of the great joys of summer is having an almost endless supply of fresh basil coming from my garden.  There is just something so magical about basil, that aroma that just lingers with you……sigh    Years ago I worked at restaurant that was adjacent to a farm in Buena, and much to my surprise I knew the farmer and the his sons from many years coaching and officiating wrestling.  Back in those days, wrestling was a big part of my life, and we had a strong community of coaches and wrestlers in the area.

We were competitors on the mat, but friends and family off the mat.  It wasn’t unusual for any coach to fill in for a coach who was busy on another mat, we took care of each other because it was the right thing to do.

As it happened one of those boys I had watched grow up through the program in Buena,  was now helping to run the family farm, and he saw me from the field, pretty much the same as I had been during my coaching years, and brought the tractor over to say hello.   After catching up with life in general, he asked about the restaurant and as we talked, somehow basil came up in the conversation.  The next day on my doorstep I found a bushel basket overfilled with fresh basil, and I spent the next few minutes just inhaling that incredible aroma.

Needless to say, I made a good deal of pesto that day, and our specials reflected  the bounty of pesto and fresh basil that had been left by a friend.

sea scallops pan seared served with linguine tossed with freshly made pesto

Over the  years I have used pesto many different ways in a variety of sauces.  But I think my favorite use of fresh pesto is to simply toss it with pasta, sprinkle a little grated Romano on it and enjoy the flavors in their purest form.   Now that speaks of summer to me, whether I’m picking my own basil, or remembering the days when I got it by the bushel basket……. Fresh basil means summer to me and always will.

The great thing about a simple flavorful pesto is that it goes so well with just about everything, and since it is summer and the scallop boats have been bringing in gorgeous fresh scallops off the Jersey coast, I thought it would be the perfect combination to share with you.   To make a new summer memory that we could share, because we are friends, and we are family.

pan seared scallops served with linguine alla pesto

5.0 from 3 reviews
Pan Seared Scallops with Linguine al Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 3
Classical Pesto
  • 2 bunches of Basil
  • ½ bunch of Italian Parsley (depending upon the size of the bunch you may need a full bunch, or if you want the flavors a little milder)
  • ¼ cup (22 gm) of grated Romano Cheese
  • ¼ cup (40 gm) toasted pine nuts or walnuts
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pan Seared Scallops
  • 1 lb fresh sea scallops
  • 1 tsp (5 gm) old bay seasoning
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1 pound (453 gm) linguine
Classical Pesto
  1. Remove the leaves from the basil and parsley, do not use the stems
  2. To toast your pine nuts get a pan sauté pan very hot , then turn off the heat, and add your pine nuts. Keep the pine nuts moving around so they toast without burning.
  3. Place them into your food processor, Pulse it until its minced very well.
  4. Now add your garlic, toasted pine nuts, and grated Romano Cheese, pulse to combine
  5. Drizzle in the Olive Oil until it has a nice smooth consistency without looking oily
  6. and Voila you got pesto!!
  1. cook linguine per instructions on the box
  1. wash and clean your scallops (remove the little piece of side mussel)
  2. pat dry the scallops with paper towels
  3. sprinkle the old bay on both sides of the scallops
  4. get your pan very hot
  5. add enough olive oil to have a light coating in the pan
  6. add the scallops carefully, not over crowding the pan (too many scallops will bring down the temperature of the pan)
  7. most importantly once you place the scallops in the pan, do not move them!
  8. allow the scallop to sear on one side for two minutes, when you turn one scallop you should begin to see a nice caramel color as a light crust forms. If your scallop looks like this continue turning them, if not let them cook a little longer.
  9. after turning the scallop continue cooking, being careful not to over cook them.
  10. a scallop will be just a little translucent in the center when it is done (the scallop will continue to cook after you've removed it from the pan)
  11. look at the scallop from the side to determine if it is done.
  12. the scallop should be a little springy when you push it with your fingers, if it is firm, its overcooked**
Linguine al Pesto
  1. this is a matter of timing, while the scallops are searing, the pasta should just be getting done; you want to toss the linguine with a few large spoonfuls of the pesto (use as much or as little as you like), as soon as you drain it.
  2. place the linguine with the pesto back in the pot, and hold on the back of the stove(off burner) until your scallops are done.
  3. plate pasta and top with scallops, serve immediately!
** Scallops will get a little rubbery as they sit, its very important to serve them immediately when they are done.


I do get questions about Old Bay seasoning from my friends from around the world.  It’s a US seasoning originating in Baltimore, that we love on seafood.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret………In Philly we love it on french fries!  Of course the name varies, but I call them Crab Fries, serve up the fries with a healthy shake of old bay and a melted American cheese sauce and your in heaven……sigh

Sorry I got distracted,  we were taking about Old Bay…..  I found a few copycat recipes on the web since it’s probably very hard to get outside of the US, and although I’ve never made it at home, this should give you a good idea of what the seasoning mix is, if you’d like to give it a try,  just click on Old Bay!

Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope your summer is going well, and don’t forget to make some memories!


  1. I’m a Maryland girl, so my kids love Old Bay Seasoning. We have been making lots of pesto this summer. I’ve even managed to sneak in some Swiss chard and kale in my pesto and the kids haven’t even noticed.

  2. One of our favorite dinners is shrimp boil, using TONS and TONS of Old Bay. LOL!

    I love fresh pesto. One of my favorite things in the world. I so wish scallop boats came in to visit me…I’d eat them all of the time!

  3. The Mom Chef says:

    You had me at scallops. I can’t remember the last time I had one; curse the tight budget. Yours are so perfectly cooked. The pesto pasta is the perfect thing to serve them with.

  4. I love pan seared scallops but I’ve never served them with pesto – fabulous idea!

  5. Chef Dennis….old bay seasoning…dont think we can get it over here. Can you tell me what is it made of basically ? I mean what are ingredients that make up the seasoning so that I can imagine the taste of your pan seared scallops. You know I am a Piggy so looking at the photos is not enough. LOL! Great idea to have the scallops for the linguine pesto !

    • hi Elin

      there is a link at the end of my post, that will take you to a recipe for making your own, it’s highlighted Old Bay.

      it really is a great seasoning for seafood, I think you would like it!

  6. Oh so yummy. I miss eating scallops. Bon appetit!

  7. This looks fabulous!! Do you toss the scallops with the Old Bay seasoning before searing, or do you sprinkle the Old Bay on after cooking?

    • hi Kath

      sprinkle a little of the old bay on before searing, you can always add a little more afterwards if you like more of that flavor. Thanks for letting me know I left out that step!

  8. i’m not a huge fan of scallops, but yours look so irresistable here! looks like a delicious meal!

  9. Oh.My.God. These photos look AMAZING! Those scallops resting on a bed of linguini? Please make me a plate now! I must make it this weekend. Off to the market 1st thing tomorrow. BTW, I should be heading to bed now but instead I am browsing through blogs. All this surfing is making me very hungry. But thanks for sharing a good story and great recipe, Chef Dennis!

  10. I’m Italian… I simply can’t resist when I see a dish of pasta!

  11. That looks divine! So lovely for the summer months!

  12. This looks so delicious, I will have to this recipe for sure!

  13. Mei-I @ gastronomic nomad says:

    What a lovely surprise!! Basil and mint are the smells of summer to me. Those scallops look so juicy! YMM.

  14. The dish looks so very good. Scallops are my favorite seafood, I will pick them up anywhere, in any form, and eat them anytime. And when they are seasoned in this fashioned…gorgeous.

    The seasoning is so interesting……I use a lot of spices from scratch. I thnk I want to try this at home and see how it comes out….

  15. Chef Dennis, that last photo made me crave scallops more than pasta — a first! Thanks for the link to the Old Bay knock-off, too… have never tried Old Bay (gasp) but was thawing out fish for dinner and it sounds like a marvelous blend. (It’s been too hot for the fish to bite here… thankful for the freezer supply!) Basil is one of those herbs with a scent that evokes memories of family meals before you’ve even added it to a dish — glad you were blessed with a bountiful supply! 🙂

  16. Delicious looking as always.

  17. colourful filling meal looks delicious

  18. i think i have mentioned here that i absolutely love what you do with seafood. i am terrible with it, but a well written recipe like this one gives me hope.

  19. Not a real fan when it comes to seafoods. But I am a real pasta eater. I love how you combined the flavors in this dish. You never fail to bring out the best in whatever ingredient you cook with, chef!

  20. OMG those scallops look plump and perfect!!!! Drooooool!

  21. How funny, I was just given a bunch of basil from a friends garden and made lots of pesto! Most is in the freezer but I left some out. There’s something very calming about simplicity with food. No hoity-toity, no hours spent in the kitchen just simple items that taste amazing. Your use of pesto with scallops here may just be a way to get my hubby to try them!

  22. Scallops and pesto sound amazing. Thanks for sharing. Something else I learned about basil is to plant them amongst tomato and pepper plants within the garden. The bugs are attracted to the basil rather than the veggies. ~ I can confirm this is true 🙂

  23. This looks amazing! Such an elegant meal. Would be perfect for a date night.

    • It certainly is, My wife loves the simple use of Pesto, not too heavy, just flavorful! It goes great with Prosceco!

  24. Basil is my favorite herb because it’s so fragrant. I actually just made some pesto yesterday too. I’ve also been a little scared to cook scallops because I’ve heard they can become overcooked easily, so thank you for this tutorial.

  25. That first picture took my breath away, quite amazing! The entire meal looks fantastic and your photos are wonderful!

  26. Scallops are my favorite food ever! I could probably eat them every day without getting bored. This dish looks amazing! I come to your site, drool a little, and crave the dish photographed. Thanks for sharing!

  27. This looks AMAZING – thank you so much for including your pesto recipe as well! Nom.

  28. Good morning, I featured this recipe on my blog today for my weekly seafood round-up. It looks great, thanks for allowing me to share! Here is the link:


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