Scallop and Fennel Pasta in Lime Butter Sauce

January 22, 2011
Author Notes

One of my favorite summer recipes is Grilled Scallops with Lime Butter from a book called The Cook's Encyclopedia of Barbeques, Grills, and Outdoor Eating. It combines grilled fennel and scallops with a really nice lime butter sauce. The combination is heavenly (though I admit bias as I love, love, love scallops and fennel.) This is my indoor variation on the recipe, with sautéed shallots and fennel in a butter & lime sauce mixed with spaghetti and topped with seared scallops. The fennel & spaghetti cook in about the same amount of time, and the prep can be completed in about the time it takes to bring the pasta water to a boil, so this can be made in 35 to 40 minutes start to finish. —hardlikearmour

  • Serves 4
  • 1 pound dry-packed scallops
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti
  • salt
  • 1 large fennel bulb, quartered & cored, then sliced lenghthwise into thin wedges
  • 2 medium shallots, diced (about 1/3-1/2 cup)
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium to large limes, one zested and juiced, and one cut into wedges
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2-3 teaspoons minced fennel fronds
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In This Recipe
  1. Pat scallops dry with paper towels, then place on plate and refrigerate uncovered.
  2. Bring 4 quarts of water to a rolling boil then add 1 T salt and the spaghetti. Cook as directed on the package to al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water, then drain pasta. Once drained return to cooking pot and keep covered.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat a 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat. Add 6 T butter, and once melted and no longer foaming add the shallot, fennel, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until shallots have browned, and fennel is tender, about 10 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to prevent over-browning of the shallots and butter solids. Add the lime juice, lime zest, dijon, fennel fronds, parsley, and 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water. Stir to combine, then transfer to pot with cooked pasta. Stir to combine, adding additional pasta water if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside and keep pot covered.
  4. Wipe out sauté pan with paper towels, and reheat on medium-high. Remove scallops from fridge, and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Melt remaining 2 T of butter in pan, and once starting to brown arrange scallops in pan one flat side down. Cook 1 & 1/2 to 2 minutes, until golden brown on the first side then using tongs flip over. Adjust heat if needed to prevent butter from burning. Cook second side 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown. Central 1/4 to 1/3 of scallop should be translucent, as it will continue to cook. Remove scallops to plate and cover to keep warm. (NB: if the scallops are going to be crowded do this part in 2 phases, using 1 T butter for each phase. The scallops I used were about 16 to the pound, and fit nicely in my 12-inch pan.)
  5. Divide spaghetti between 4 plates, then top with scallops. Serve with lime wedges.

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I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.