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Scallops are a delicious and well-loved form of seafood that are enjoyed equally in regular and fine dining contexts. These delicious sea creatures are found in deep, cold ocean waters all over the world, as such their popularity is very far-reaching around the world. That said though many people will likely have only eaten them when dining out. As such, if cooking them at home, you may be wondering what to serve with scallops.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Scallops?
- 2 What Goes With Scallops?
- 3 What To Serve With Scallops?
- 3.1 Grilled Vegetables
- 3.2 Roasted Broccoli
- 3.3 Green Beans
- 3.4 Succotash
- 3.5 Asparagus
- 3.6 Roasted Butternut Squash
- 3.7 Brussel Sprouts
- 3.8 Green Salad
- 3.9 Spinach And Pomegranate Salad
- 3.10 Cauliflower Puree
- 3.11 Mashed Potatoes
- 3.12 Baby Potatoes
- 3.13 Polenta
- 3.14 Risotto
- 3.15 Couscous
- 3.16 Rice
- 3.17 Lemon Caper Pasta
- 3.18 Fettuccine Alfredo
- 3.19 Garlic Bread
- 3.20 Bacon
- 3.21 Steak
- 3.22 Shrimp
- 3.23 Black Pudding
- 3.24 Fruit Salsa
- 3.25 Sauces
- 4 Answered: What To Serve With Scallops?
- 5 FAQ – What To Serve With Scallops?
What Are Scallops?
Scallops are a type of shellfish that is commonly found in deep, cold ocean waters. The majority of scallops consumed are exported from the United Kingdom, east coast of America, Canada, South Korea or Japan to other regions of the world.
Fresh scallops can be eaten raw or cooked with the flavour changing quite dramatically. Raw scallops are known for having a flavour reminiscent of the ocean that is also mildly sweet along with a wonderfully succulent texture. Meanwhile cooked ones, whether pan-seared scallops, grilled scallops or anything in between is often nutty and slightly buttery in flavour whilst being tender in texture with a slight crisp.
What Goes With Scallops?
Scallops are mentioned above a truly delicious dish that pairs wonderfully well with a wide variety of different ingredients. This is true whether you are cooking scallops or having them raw. Whilst they may be slightly different in textures and tastes, you can still serve scallops either way in the majority of cases. Typically this means that the choice comes down to if you want rich, buttery and nutty cooked scallops or fresh, raw ones that are lighter and reminiscent of the ocean.
What To Serve With Scallops?
With the above in mind, you may find the idea of pairing something specific with a scallop dinner to be a daunting prospect due to simply being overwhelmed with choice. This is because sea scallops really do go with a lot of dishes due to being adaptable. As such, when serving scallops, you may need some examples of good starting ideas for sides. Fortunately, some can be found below:
- Grilled Vegetables
- Roasted Broccoli
- Green Beans
- Roasted Butternut Squash
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Salad
- Spinach And Pomegranate Salad
- Cauliflower Puree
- Mashed Potatoes
- Baby Potatoes
- Lemon Caper Pasta
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Garlic Bread
- Black Pudding
- Fruit Salsa
A classic staple side dish for many different dishes is a selection of various grilled vegetables. This is because they will add a variety of different tastes from each veggie along with some smokiness from the grill. Additionally, they also add a lovely crunch texture that will contrast excellently with the fleshy but soft scallops.
In particular, a great combination of mixed vegetables to grill and pair with scallops is red peppers, zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. These can then be coated in olive oil and seasoned with fresh herbs salt and pepper before grilling them.
These will cook quickly with the result being a selection of wonderfully colourful and zesty veggies that contrasts well with the sweetness of your scallops.
Broccoli is something of a contentious vegetable, especially with young children who are likely to turn their noses up at it. However, when roasted the earthy and mildly bitter flavours make for a wonderful contrast of tastes when paired with scallops.
One way of making these taste even better is to drizzle some olive oil or lemon juice over the broccoli and season with fresh herbs along with salt and pepper. Following which they can be roasted and will extra fresh and zesty flavour.
However, another wonderful option is to season them with a generous amount of freshly grated parmesan cheese and minced garlic. Again they should then be roasted in the oven with the result being a cheesy and garlicky treat that pairs wonderfully with scallops and is somewhat healthy.
In a similar vein to the previous options, green beans are an excellent choice for adding some earthy flavour to your portion of sweet scallops. Additionally, the contrast between the tender scallops and crunchy green beans will be a wonderful sensation.
However, to truly make these into something special then you should set up an extra pan alongside your scallops and sauté your green beans. Doing so helps to bring out their delicious flavour and texture along with adding some extra butteriness that harmonises wonderfully with scallops. Additionally, if you want to take things even further then sautéing them in garlic butter will add further delicious flavour.
This hearty southern dish is a staple of American and soul food cuisine. At its core, the ingredients include lima beans, corn, cherry tomatoes, butter and an assortment of spices. However, when paired with scallops some brilliant extra additions include peas and parsnips and/or carrots.
The reason for this is that the diverse flavours of this spin on succotash contrast and harmonise with those of scallops in a number of ways. Like with the other veggie options the various crunchy textures and earthy tastes provide contrast. Meanwhile the sweeter veggies such as carrots, parsnips and of course sweet corn mirror those of the scallops themselves.
In particular, this will pair excellently with breaded stuffed scallops. This is because the crispiness of the bread crumbs and the gooey or creamy stuffing complement the succotash excellently and result in a deliciously hearty, decadent and rich meal experience.
Like green beans or broccoli, asparagus adds some wonderful earthy and slightly bitter flavours along with a delicious crunchy texture. However, asparagus is more distinct in this regard though as it is generally stronger and more bitter.
Asparagus can be prepared in a number of ways that pair well with scallops. Similarly to broccoli, they can be sprinkled with parmesan cheese and some garlic before being baked.
Or similarly to with green beans, you can sauté them. However, when doing so a great idea is to sauté them with cherry tomatoes as the contrast between earthy, bitter and tangy will pair excellently with scallops.
Roasted Butternut Squash
Roasted butternut squash is a simple dish to make that will add some wonderful vibrancy and colour to your scallop dish along with some delicious flavours.
Butternut squash is known for its sweet and nutty flavours that pair well with those found in both raw or pan-seared scallop. Additionally, though, they contrast exceptionally well with the ocean flavour whilst their soft crunchiness offers a variety in texture from that of the scallops.
Making delicious roasted butternut squash is also incredibly easy and quick to do. Simply mix peeled and chopped butternut squash with butter, brown sugar and sage. Then roast in the oven until ready.
Even more so than the aforementioned broccoli, brussel sprouts often have a bad reputation within the culinary world. However, they, like many other fresh vegetables, are absolutely delicious when prepared correctly and paired with the right ingredients.
One option is to serve them in a creamy lemon sauce alongside some deliciously salty pancetta. The result being a delicious medley of different flavours from the earthy and nutty sprouts, tangy lemon, saltiness from the pancetta and oceanic sweetness from the scallops.
Another option though is to make a salad with brussel sprouts as the centrepiece. When doing so combine them with a dijon mustard dressing, apples and dried cherries. The result being a salad that is earthy but also surprisingly sweet.
On the subject of salads like grilled vegetables, a nice green salad will pair well with near enough any savoury dish. Scallops are of course no exception to this as a classic salad will add some variety in texture and taste to the meal.
Truly a wide variety of salad options will work with scallops. However, a simple but effective option is an arugula (rocket) salad. This will consist of arugula, lemon juice, olive oil, thinly sliced shallots and shaved parmesan cheese.
Spinach And Pomegranate Salad
For a particularly special looking salad that almost screams restaurant-quality then a spinach and pomegranate salad is an excellent choice to go with. Especially since pulling off this light and delicious salad is surprisingly easy to do.
This recipe at its core contains spinach, pomegranate seed and has a light balsamic dressing. However, other common additions include walnuts, red onions and crumbled feta cheese.
When paired with seared scallops, the results are truly remarkable as an assortment of contrasting yet complementary flavours come together in a wonderfully harmonious way.
If after a thick, creamy and tasty soup to pair with your scallops then a delicious cauliflower puree is a wonderful choice.
In particular, this puree is deliciously velvety smooth with creamy and nutty tastes. Naturally, this perfectly complements the buttery, sweet and nutty flavours found in your scallops. This is especially true if you include some other additional ingredients such as pine nuts, capers and raisins to add extra flavour and texture.
The added benefit of this kind of puree is that it is not only delicious but also quite simple and quick to make. In fact, it can be ready to serve alongside some scallops within twenty-five minutes.
In a similar vein to cauliflower puree, a bowl of creamy mashed potatoes makes for an excellent pairing for rich and flavourful dishes such as scallops.
Truly, mashed potatoes can be served with near enough anything. However, they pair exceptionally well with scallops as the rich and creamy texture will blend with the briny, buttery and slightly sweet scallops.
To add further nuance to your mashed potatoes then make them with roasted garlic and shallots, along with a generous amount of butter and sour cream. Doing so will further emphasise the richness and creamy texture of the mashed potatoes whilst also adding a multitude of additional flavours.
Also known as new potatoes, baby potatoes are potatoes that are harvested before being fully grown. As such they tend to have much more tender textures and thinner skins which do not require peeling off before consumption.
These can be prepared in a number of ways that will pair excellently with scallops. The options range from simply steaming them and drizzling them with herbs and lemon zest to making miniature roasted or baked potatoes.
No matter which way you choose though, the tender and delicate potatoes make a wonderful contrast from the sweet, soft but slightly spongy scallops.
If you’re a fan of the iconic southern combination of polenta and shrimp, then why not put a twist on things by using scallops instead of the typical shrimp?
Polenta is a favourite of many for good reason as it is wonderfully creamy and pairs wonderfully with rich seafood. As such it makes for a match made in heaven when used as a bed for some pan-seared scallops to rest upon.
Using browned butter will make things even better by adding that extra layer of sweetness to the affair. As such, even though this dish can be prepared in under an hour, it will seem to have taken much longer for those tasting it.
As we discussed when talking about what to serve with risotto, pan-seared scallops make for a wonderful combination.
When paired with risotto the deliciously sweet, buttery and tender sensations, along with the lightly seared edges of seared scallops contrast wonderfully with the creamy risotto.
In particular, an excellent risotto and scallop pairing is lemon and asparagus risotto. This is because it offers a wonderful creaminess alongside the subtle lemon zest and earthy and bitter notes of the asparagus.
If looking for an incredibly simple but tasty and versatile option then couscous is an excellent choice. Especially so if you’re wanting to prepare a particularly hearty meal.
Couscous is an excellent choice for this because it can be flavoured in a number of ways to completely change the taste and feel of the meal without overwhelming the scallops. For example, a popular option is to flavour the couscous with some curry powder to add some kick and more of an Indian feel.
Another wonderful option for making your meal more heaty is with a delicious bowl of steaming rice. Truly whether you’re serving it with tandoori chicken, beef stroganoff or in this case scallops, rice will go with pretty much anything.
When it comes to scallops though, rice is an excellent choice for a side dish. This is because the fluffy but starchy rice provides extra textures and soaks up any juice from the scallops to really help their flavours pop.
If though, you want to add some extra layers of flavour to your rice then a savoury chicken rice pilaf (or pilau) is a wonderful option for doing so. However, for something simple and quick then a simple bowl of white rice flavoured with butter, cardamom, cloves, and star anise makes for a delicious side dish for your scallops.
Lemon Caper Pasta
Pasta dishes tend to go wonderfully with scallops as lighter options help to enhance and accentuate the flavours already present. As such, heavy tomato-based dishes are best avoided as they will likely overpower the flavour of your scallops.
With that in mind, a light lemon caper pasta is an ideal choice. The beauty of this dish is that it is truly very light but also quite vibrant and slightly zesty in flavour which really helps to emphasise the flavours of your scallops.
To keep things light though, instead of using ordinary pasta noodles you should instead use angel hair pasta. This pasta is essentially incredibly thin and light noodles that are wonderfully delicate and make for an easy dining experience.
If you want a more creamy and rich pasta dish to pair with your scallops though, then fettuccine alfredo is a wonderful choice. Whilst this may be a heavier option, the flavours are still not going to overwhelm those found in your scallops.
The rich, creamy and cheesy alfredo sauce associated with this dish makes for a delicious contrast when paired with the sweet and buttery scallops. Meanwhile, the differences in texture of seared scallops and al dente pasta noodles provide a wonderfully layered mouthfeel.
Another wonderful pairing with near enough any dish is some delicious garlic bread. Whether served as focaccia, on a baguette or anything in between, this will always go down a treat.
The soft doughy bread will contrast the tender texture of the scallops whilst also mopping up any juices or sauce it is coated in. Meanwhile, the sweet scallops will contrast wonderfully with the delicious taste of garlic.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t technically a side dish. However, bacon-wrapped scallops are just too delicious not to mention. If you haven’t heard of this before, then you’re very welcome.
This wonderful dish is a combination of two incredibly flavourful and popular ingredients and honestly, it’s perfect. The salty and savoury bacon and sweet and seafood flavoured scallops contrast and harmonise perfectly.
These can be cooked in a variety of different manners such as grilling or frying on the stove. However, for the best results, we recommend baking as it will allow the flavours to marry more completely into something truly special.
Strictly speaking, in the relationship between scallops and steak, many would often consider the steak to be the star of the show. Or at the very least have equal billing with the seared scallops. That said though, it would be wrong to not include this surf and turf classic.
Naturally, this meal will be somewhat on the heavy side but the combination of meaty steak and sweet seafood is honestly to die for. No matter how you season the steak though the results should be excellent, although a spicy cajun seasoning makes for a wonderful choice when pairing steak with scallops.
Instead of surf and turf though, you can always double down and go for surf and surf by pairing scallops with shrimp. The results of which being incredibly delicious and flavourful whether you grill, fry or sear them.
Truly this combination is an automatic success so long as you are careful when cooking them. After all, both scallops and shrimp will cook incredibly quickly so you’ll need to keep an eye on them or they’ll soon become quite rubbery.
In the United Kingdom, it is not uncommon to see pan-seared scallops served atop some delicious black pudding. However, this delicious combination may be hard to come by, particularly in America.
That said though, this delicious sliced sausage derived from pigs blood makes for a particularly delicious pairing with scallops, that is a personal favourite of mine.
Here the flavours of sweet, buttery scallops will contrast wonderfully with the assortment of savoury, nutty, earthy, nutty and herby black pudding in a which neither overpowers the other. The flavour diversity can be built upon even further though if you make your own black pudding and add some spices to give it a little bit of kick.
If you want a side that is fresh, fruity, flavourful and zesty then some fruit salsa is a wonderful choice for pairing with your scallops.
In particular, a mango and avocado salsa is particularly good atop some seared scallops. Here the zesty, cool and fresh flavours contrast wonderfully with the rich and buttery tastes of the seafood.
Additionally, when served on a baguette, the combination makes for a particularly delicious appetiser or light lunch.
If you love to have scallops by themselves then a wonderful way of enhancing them is with a light dipping sauce or two.
Truly the subtle flavours of scallops make them suitable for eating with a wide variety of different sauces. For example, classic seafood dips such as thousand island or tartare sauce are excellent. However, other options such as a creamy aioli or honey and dijon mustard dip also work wonderfully.
Honestly, the options are far too varied and numerous to list off here. As such, if you have any particularly favourite sauces then why not try them with your scallops.
Answered: What To Serve With Scallops?
When deciding what to pair with scallops the options available are truly as varied as the number of cuisines in the world. As such it can be difficult to decide where to even begin when pairing scallops with other dishes.
As such, the above options whether it’s choices of meat, veggies, pasta or sauces are ultimately just the tip of the iceberg. They are, however, some incredibly popular choices and therefore an excellent starting place.
With that in mind then, don’t be afraid to mix and match or incorporate other ideas of your own. You may even find a new favourite combination.
FAQ – What To Serve With Scallops?
Why do you soak scallops in milk?
Soaking scallops in milk is an excellent way of tenderising them before cooking. Additionally, it also helps to lessen the fishy taste and smell and remove any remaining sand.
How many scallops should you serve?
The number of scallops that someone will consume in a serving will typically be between three and six depending on the individual and other ingredients in the meal. However, when served as appetisers this number is usually reduced.