Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta - Weeknight meal idea! Skip to content

Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

Directions

  1. If using bamboo brochettes or skewers, place them in water to soak overnight.
  2. Prepare pesto: In a medium-sized bowl, add the zest of a lemon and its juice. Add the garlic and pesto and stir to combine. Reserve a quarter of the pesto to baste the scallops.
  3. Prepare scallops: Skewer scallops onto 4 metal or soaked wood skewers. Brush both sides with reserved pesto mixture.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat, 500°F. 
  5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta al dente according to package directions. 
  6. While pasta is cooking: Place scallops on preheated grill. Close lid and cook for 2 minutes. Gently nudge scallops with tongs to release from grill, then flip skewers, close lid and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to plate or platter and brush with unused, fresh reserved pesto.
  7. Assemble pasta: Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pot or place in a large glass bowl. Add remaining pesto mixture and enough of the pasta cooking liquid to coat pasta evenly. Add spinach, tomatoes, olives and chili flakes (if using) and lightly toss. 
  8. Serve scallops over or to the side of the spaghetti.
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Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta

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Grilled scallops served with spaghetti, tossed with baby spinach, tomatoes, black olives and basil pesto…

  • clock icon
    30 MIN
  • 4 SERVINGS
Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta

A huge shoutout to our friends at CHOOSE CANADIAN SEAFOOD for this SUPER QUICK GRILLED SCALLOPS WITH PESTO PASTA recipe! They first got our attention when they described it as an easy weeknight meal idea the entire family will enjoy. Happy to report that it’s true, but this recipe also has another essential thing going for it – it’s absolutely delicious, too!

Here’s why this recipe works:

  1. The main feature is scallops which are high in protein but low in both calories and fat.
  2. The pasta portion is easy to make.
  3. The scallops and pasta are both flavoured with pesto.
  4. The entire recipe takes just 30 minutes to make.

Now, if scallops are what brought you here, we also have a few more recipes that put their fabulous flavour to good use. Try this healthy ASIAN SCALLOP SOUP and our famous CREAMY SEAFOOD CHOWDER, made even more enjoyable when served with these homemade POTATO DINNER ROLLS. We also have other fish and seafood recipes, so click that search button and find something delicious to make tonight!

Let’s get back to this feature, shall we? Time to make SUPER QUICK GRILLED SCALLOPS WITH PESTO PASTA:

The ingredients needed to make the super quick grilled scallops recipes
This is all you need to make this delicious weeknight dinner idea.

INGREDIENTS

The ingredients needed to make this main course are easy to source. A quick spin through your trusted grocer will have you collecting the cherry tomatoes, spinach, lemon and black olives. Then grab a favourite long noodle pasta like spaghetti, linguine or fettuccine, a jar of pesto and some scallops and you’re good to go. This recipe is a keeper, especially when you need to get a meal on the table quickly. Works every time. 

The scallops gathered on bamboo skewers
Look for Canadian seafood at your local grocers or markets.

SCALLOPS

As mentioned above, scallops get five stars for being low in fat and high in protein – click HERE to learn more about them. The recipe works using either fresh or frozen scallops. If using frozen, just follow package directions to thaw. It’s important, to begin with, dry scallops, so pat them dry with a paper towel before running metal or bamboo skewers through them. If making this recipe using bamboo skewers, don’t forget to soak them overnight before adding the scallops. This prevents them from burning on the hot grill.

The pesto is boosted with garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest
Adding lemon juice, zest and more garlic to the pesto gives this dish extra flavour.

PESTO

One of the hallmark flavourings of this pasta dish is pesto. Pesto is an Italian sauce made from fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan and garlic. It’s a smooth-textured sauce with a similar consistency to chimichurri or an olive tapenade. For this recipe, we give the pesto a boost of flavour from more garlic, lemon juice and lemon zest. Then it does double duty where we use it first as a marinade for the scallops and then as the sauce for the pasta. Perfect!

The spaghetti cooked al dente
Don’t forget to reserve ½ cup of that pasta water before you strain the pasta.

PASTA

Although the recipe has been written using spaghetti, we’re happy to report it also works with other long-noodle pasta too; feel free to make this recipe using your favourite. Two little reminders about cooking the pasta: a good rule of thumb for salting pasta water is 1-½ tablespoons of salt in the water for every pound of dried pasta you’ll be cooking. Second thing is to remember to reserve ½ cup of that pasta water before you strain it. It helps coat the noodles and vegetables when poured over the cooked pasta and pesto sauce.

The fresh add-ins include baby spinach, cherry tomatoes and black olives
Baby spinach, tomatoes and black olives are just the things to give the pasta a hit of freshness.

ADD-INS

We’re loving the big flavours these three popular vegetable add-ins give this dish. Baby spinach, juicy cherry tomatoes and salty black olives also add lots of colours and make the pasta more visually appealing. In the VIDEO attached to this post, I suggest adding a sprinkle of chili flakes into the mix too, and I maintain it gives the pasta a nice kick. Give it a try, I bet you’ll enjoy it.

A bowl of the spaghetti tossed with pesto, tomatoes, black olives and spinach
Keep things easy and serve this meal straight from the bowl.

Although you can assemble the pasta dish in the pasta pot, I like tossing it all together in a large glass bowl. Doing so really shows off the colourful veggies and pesto sauce. 

The scallops fresh off the grill
Who knew you get such perfect grill marks after only 4 minutes of grill time?

GRILL 

Seriously, it only takes four minutes to grill the scallops. The goal is slightly firm scallops, opaque in colour ensuring a soft, tender texture. The only caveat is to make sure your barbecue is preheated to a moderate-high heat, 500°F suggested. Simply place the brochettes down on the hot side of the grill, close the lid and leave them be. I found giving the scallops a gentle nudge with a pair of tongs releases them from the grill grates before you flip. Last thing about the grill; give the scallops a quick swipe of fresh, undipped pesto as soon as they come off the grill to boost that flavour profile. So yummy.

The grilled scallops served with the pasta
Such a winning combo!

SERVE

Don’t overthink serving this grilled scallops dish. Add an ample twirl of the tossed pasta to each dinner plate and place a skewer of the grilled scallops to the side along with a favourite glass of white wine (hint!). You can also simply place the bowl of pasta with a platter of brochettes on the table and call everyone in to enjoy. “Come and get it” should do the trick!

Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta
These grilled scallops and pasta main pair perfectly with a light chardonnay or pinot grigio.

This SUPER QUICK GRILLED SCALLOPS WITH PESTO PASTA is an excellent choice for your next weeknight dinner.

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Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta

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Super Quick Grilled Scallops with Pesto Pasta

Ingredients

  • 375 g uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 large lemon
  • ½ cup basil pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 450 g jumbo Canadian sea scallops (approx. 24-30), fresh or thawed and patted dry
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup pitted black olives, quartered
  • 4 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • sprinkle of chili flakes, optional
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. If using bamboo brochettes or skewers, place them in water to soak overnight.
  2. Prepare pesto: In a medium-sized bowl, add the zest of a lemon and its juice. Add the garlic and pesto and stir to combine. Reserve a quarter of the pesto to baste the scallops.
  3. Prepare scallops: Skewer scallops onto 4 metal or soaked wood skewers. Brush both sides with reserved pesto mixture.
  4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat, 500°F. 
  5. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta al dente according to package directions. 
  6. While pasta is cooking: Place scallops on preheated grill. Close lid and cook for 2 minutes. Gently nudge scallops with tongs to release from grill, then flip skewers, close lid and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to plate or platter and brush with unused, fresh reserved pesto.
  7. Assemble pasta: Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water. Drain pasta and return to pot or place in a large glass bowl. Add remaining pesto mixture and enough of the pasta cooking liquid to coat pasta evenly. Add spinach, tomatoes, olives and chili flakes (if using) and lightly toss. 
  8. Serve scallops over or to the side of the spaghetti.

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