The key to making pasta with shellfish that isn’t flavorless

  • This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen in May 2018 shows spaghetti with lemon, basil and scallops in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in the cookbook “Cooking At Home With Bridget And Julia.” (Daniel J. van Ackere/America's Test Kitchen via AP)

For a recipe with a handful of ingredients, pasta with shellfish is awfully hard to get right.

We love the combination of tender pasta and succulent shrimp or bite-size bay scallops, but all too often the shellfish is overcooked and tough and the pasta is boring and flavorless.


For an extraordinary but simple spaghetti dinner, we created a creamy vinaigrette packed with bright, lemony flavor and tossed it with tender shrimp, hot pasta, butter and chopped basil.

Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil and Scallops

Servings: 4-6

Start to finish: 30 minutes

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/2 cup juice (2 lemons)

1 small garlic clove, minced to paste

Salt and pepper

2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 pound small bay scallops

1 pound spaghetti

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

Whisk oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in small bowl, then stir in Parmesan until thick and creamy.


Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add scallops in single layer and cook until scallops are firm, about 3 minutes; transfer to bowl and cover.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Stir in olive oil mixture, scallops with any accumulated juices, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and basil and toss to combine. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

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