The Inevitable Valentine’s Day Scallop Recipe

food decjan 005_phixr

My earliest memory of Valentine’s  Day was the year the McDonald’s in my town decided to try something new. In what can only be described as a bizarre marketing stunt, they decided to go the whole nine yards and convert the upstairs into a romantic restaurant. It was lit by candles, there were white tablecloths on every table, and suited waiters to serve your Big Macs to you  and your love on a tray. I’m not sure how old I was witnessing this spectacle, I was definitely still in single digits, but it left a lasting impression. Valentine’s Day as a grown up clearly did not have a lot to live up to.Perhaps unsurprisingly I haven’t grown into a huge fan of it as a grown-up, finding myself on the edge of the ‘It’s a commercialised travesty based on guilt and peer-pressure’ side of the argument but I am never one to pass up the chance to make or have a nice meal.

This recipe is a slightly retro creamy pasta dish with scallops, white wine and lemon zest. It is quick and easy to make, about 20 minutes from start to finish and is adapted from Saveur. It is rich and luxurious, which seems about right for the day that’s in it. In homage to the more traditional relationship style, this serves 2, but can easily be scaled up if you are living a more decadent and exciting life than I.


  • 6 large sea scallops
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs tarragon
  • 1 handful chives
  • 100ml cup white wine
  • 200g spaghetti or other thin pasta
  • 115ml cream
  • 2 tsp lemon zest and ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • 50g Butter
  • 75g finely grated parmesan
  • Olive oil


  • In a saucepan over a medium heat, saute the shallots and tarragon in a teaspoon or two of olive oil.
  • Add in the chives and season well.
  • Cover and cook for five minutes until the shallots soften.
  • Add wine and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, set a large pot of salted water boiling for the spaghetti.
  • If you have large scallops, slice them in half horizontally so you are left with two thinner discs.
  • Set the pasta to cook as per instructions on pack, or your own intuition regarding pasta.
  • Season the scallops and pan fry in a large frying pan (big enough to take all the pasta and sauce a little while later) in a little oil until golden brown on each side (approximately 1 minute each side if cut in half).
  • Transfer the scallops to a warm plate and cover with foil and set aside.
  • Put the frying pan that contained the scallops on medium-high heat, and add in the strained onion mixture (you can get rid of the onion bits and tarragon sprig).
  • Use this to deglaze the pan and scrape up the browned bits from the scallops.
  • Drain the cooked pasta.
  • Add the cream, butter, lemon zest, juice and season well.
  • Add the pasta and stir well to combine with the sauce.
  • Cook for 2 minutes until the sauce is thickened and coating the pasta.
  • Serve with some finely grated parmesan and fresh black pepper, topped with the scallops.

2 thoughts on “The Inevitable Valentine’s Day Scallop Recipe

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