Seared Scallops with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce and Orzo Recipe

In just 30 minutes you can have restaurant-worthy seared scallops ready for a delicious weeknight dinner. This summertime recipe makes great use of your garden tomatoes and basil. Need a break from pasta? Grits or rice are both great substitutions for the orzo. Sea scallops, also called large or jumbo scallops, are up to three times larger in size than bay scallops. They have a sweet, delicate flavor and slightly chewy texture. The jumbo scallops make great main dishes, and the smaller bay scallops are ideal stirred into pasta dishes or tossed onto salads. Look for dry-packed scallops, which are packed without extra water or preservatives. This helps them brown nicely when cooked. Dry-packed scallops have a shorter shelf life than wet-packed scallops, so cook them the day you buy them.

Seared Scallops with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce and Orzo
Photo: Linda Pugliese; Prop Styling: Kay E. Clarke; Food Styling: Anna Hampton
Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
30 mins
4 serves


  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided

  • 1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion (from 1 large onion)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided

  • 16 dry-packed jumbo scallops (about 1 lb.)

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta

  • 1/4 cup salted butter

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the basil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes burst and release their juices, 6 to 7 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; cover and keep warm.

  2. Wipe skillet clean. Pat scallops dry with paper towels, and season with remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over high. Add scallops, and cook until golden brown, about 1 minute and 30 seconds per side. (Do not overcook.)

  3. Cook orzo according to package directions; drain. Stir in butter and parsley.

  4. Divide orzo among serving plates; top each with about 2/3 cup tomato sauce and 4 scallops. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 2 tablespoons basil.

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