This Seared Scallop Chorizo Pasta is a quick, easy and elegant seafood recipe that's perfect for a mid-week meal or a date night dinner.
The chorizo sausage is what gives this dish its wonderful smoky flavor and intensity. When it is fried, it releases a deliciously spicy oil. This oil is used to sear the scallops, given them a wonderful paprika-stained color and a fabulous flavor. Add in some garlic and a bit of the pasta cooking water, and you have a simple and delicious sauce that coats the pasta.
You'll learn how to cook scallops perfectly, which means that your pasta dinner will be quick and easy. Serve this with a side salad or some asparagus for an easy and delicious pasta dinner.
In most grocery stores, you can buy Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo. Both types of chorizo are fabulous, and you can use either for the scallop chorizo pasta! But here is a quick rundown of the differences.
- Raw - must be cooked.
- Usually pork, but it can contain beef.
- Flavored with garlic and chili.
- It tends to be spicer than Spanish Chorizo.
- Sold in the fresh sausage section (near the breakfast links) of the grocery store.
- Cured or semi-cured.
- Chopped pork.
- Flavored with garlic and dried and smoked red peppers (smoky pimentón).
- It tends to be milder than Mexican Chorizo.
- Sold in the cured meats section (near ham and bacon) of most grocery stores.
How to Make Scallop Chorizo Pasta
Cook the chorizo in olive oil until it is crispy.
Remove the chorizo from the pan leaving behind the oil.
Pat the scallops dry with kitchen paper serveal times, season with salt, and cook them over high heat in the chorizo-infused oil. Remove the scallops from the pan, then add the garlic, paprika, and Italian herbs (and red pepper flakes if using), and stir them all into the hot oil.
Immediately add some of the pasta cooking water to make an easy sauce. Add the cooked pasta into the pan and stir to coat in the sauce. Stir through the cooked chorizo and seared scallops and serve garnished with parsley.
(Ingredient quantities and full instructions are in the recipe card below)
- Let the chorizo get good and crispy. To do this, cook it in olive oil over medium heat. It will crisp up and release its own oil into the pan - this is the basis of the sauce, so it is a crucial step. And the crispy chorizo gives the finished dish texture.
- Generously season your pasta water. The salt in the pasta cooking water will season the pasta as it cooks, giving you a much more flavorsome dish. I recommend 1 tablespoon of salt for a quart of water, which is enough for a pound of pasta.
- Once you have cooked the pasta, reserve at least a cup of the pasta cooking water. This is a valuable ingredient and will totally bring the sauce together. You won't need a full cup, but better to have saved too much than to have poured it down the sink and need more!
- When cooking the scallops, pat them dry before you place them in the pan. This will ensure they get a crisp golden sear to them.
- Only cook the scallops for a max of 3 minutes. They need very little cooking in a seriously hot pan.
- Add the scallops to the pan in an ordered systematic way (I use the idea of a clock face). This way, you can turn them in order and make sure that no scallop doesn't get overcooked.
- If you are new to cooking scallops or have had a bad experience with tough, rubbery scallops, I would love you to read my in-depth top tips and instructions for "How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops". It will take all the fear factor away!
Which Wine to Serve with Seared Scallop Chorizo Pasta
The mild sweetness of scallops loves a bit of acidity, while the rich chorizo is perfect with something light.
For those preferring a red, then a light, chilled Pinot Noir would be a great choice. And for the white lovers, a chilled Viognier or a Dry Reisling would be perfect.
It is also worth noting that a Dry Rose would be an excellent choice as well!
What Sides to Serve with Scallop Chorizo Pasta
This richly flavored pasta recipe is terrific, served with a simple green salad with a simple dressing. Alternatively, some garlic green beans or some roasted broccoli would make a great side dish here.
Garlic bread is always a great choice as well!
For more scrumptious pasta dishes try:
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Seared Scallop Chorizo Pasta Recipe
- 14 oz long pasta – see note 1
- 2 cups raw chorizo sausage – see note 2
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 12 scallops
- 2 cloves garlic - crushed/grated
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes – optional
- Salt and pepper
- Fresh parsley – for garnish
- Bring a large pan of water to a boil, salt it generously (at least 1 tablespoon of salt per quart of water).
1 tablespoon salt
- Add the pasta and set a timer for 1 minute less than the suggested cooking time. When draining the pasta reserving 1 cup (250ml) of the cooking liquid.
14oz/400g dried pasta
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Add the chorizo, use a spatula to break it up in the pan, fry for 5 minutes, occasionally turning, until golden and crispy. (see note 2 if you have a cured chorizo sausage)
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups raw chorizo sausage
- Remove the chorizo from the frying pan, keeping the oil behind.
- Ensure the scallops are dry by patting them with paper towel several times to remove any moisture. The top of the scallop should feel almost tacky.
12 raw scallops
- Season the scallops lightly with salt. Then carefully and quickly add the scallops to the fry pan. Do them individually, placing a scallop at the 12 o'clock position and then working around the outside of the pan. (see note 3)
- Cook the scallops for 2 minutes on one side.
- Use tongs to gently turn each scallop over, again starting at 12 o'clock and working around in the same order you added the scallops, and cook on the other side for a further 30 seconds. (see note 3)
- Remove the scallops from the fry pan. Add in the garlic, paprika, Italian herbs, and pepper flakes (if using). Give this a good stir and then immediately add a ¼ cup of the pasta cooking liquid to the pan and bring to a simmer - season with salt and pepper.
2 cloves garlic (crushed/grated)
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon Italian herbs
¼-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Add the drained pasta and cooked chorizo, then toss to coat the pasta well in the oily sauce. Once the liquid has been absorbed, add ¼ cup more of the cooking water and keep stirring the pasta to coat. Test your pasta it should be perfectly cooked and well seasoned.
- Serve the pasta with the scallops on top. Garnish with parsley.
- A long pasta like spaghetti, linguine, angel hair, or fusilli lunghi works perfectly for this recipe! However, if you aren't a fan of the long pastas, then feel free to pick a smaller shape, ideally you want something that isn't tubular, so pick something like Farfalle (bowtie) or Orecchiette.
- If you want to use a cured or semi-cured Spanish style chorizo sausage, then slice this into thick disks before frying in the olive oil.
- Adding the scallops to the pan in order means you can turn them in order and don't end up with an overcooked scallop or an undercooked scallop. The clockface method is an easy one to follow. See this post for extra details and instructions: "How to Perfectly Pan Sear Scallops"