Simple Pasta with Leeks and Scallops

January 25, 2011
13 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

One of my favorite extremely easy weeknight suppers is pasta tossed with caramelized leeks. It's so simple, but quite good. Then I just vary what type of protein I pair with it from sausage, to cheese, to scallops...the sweet, lightly briny flavor of scallops goes wonderfully with the caramelized leeks. And if you top the pasta with a couple of perfectly seared scallops, suddenly your easy weeknight supper turns into something you could serve on date night! —fiveandspice

Test Kitchen Notes

It takes patience to caramelize anything, and I made the mistake of waiting until I was starving to start cooking this dish. It was torture smelling these leeks cooking down, but well worth the wait. This simple dish truly satisfies. The addition of lemon zest was inspired; I now can't imagine serving seared scallops any other way! —avimom

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 pound linguine
  • 2 medium leeks, washed and thinly sliced (the white and light green parts only)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 pound sea scallops, with the muscle removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium until foaming. Add the leeks and stir to coat. Sprinkle with a little dash of salt, then turn the heat to very low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re all wonderfully brown and caramelized. If needed, add a little water at any point if they are looking too dry.
  2. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add in your pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve a bit of the cooking liquid, then drain your pasta.
  3. Add the leeks and grated parmesan to the pasta. Then, pour your wine into the pan that you cooked the leeks in, turn up the heat to medium-high, and cook for a couple of minutes, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan into the liquid. Pour this over the pasta and leeks and toss everything together, adding a little pasta water to moisten, as needed. Cover lightly and set aside as you prepare the scallops.
  4. Pat the scallops dry and sprinkle them with salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and sear on each side until they are brown and crisped on the outside and just opaque in the middle -- this only takes 2 minutes or so per side.
  5. Divide the pasta with leeks between two plates, then perch half of the scallops on top of each. Sprinkle the lemon zest and some freshly ground pepper over each dish. Finally garnish with the parsley and cheese, and serve. And don't forget to serve the rest of the bottle of white wine.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • SEAN
  • FrugalCat
  • babswool
  • Muriel Elliott Mimura
    Muriel Elliott Mimura
  • Skyler23

30 Reviews

Kris P. March 22, 2024
This is a swoon-worthy recipe. I’ve made it several times to rave reviews. It’s a keeper.
SEAN January 19, 2024
My death row last meal request - Lol!
Simple, Fresh… Sweet, Rich and Refreshing. Served with warm crusty/garlic bread and paired with a nice Pinot Grigio, Simply my favorite!
Qwe123az January 19, 2024
A wonderfully tasty dish! I recommend pairing scallops with black caviar for a remarkably fresh and oceanic taste. Personally, I rely on https://www.kingdomcaviar.com/ for my caviar selection, but feel free to explore other brands as well.
Amy July 24, 2023
Made this as written and it was excellent. I was afraid that it would need something else (red pepper flakes or a bit of garlic) but it was perfect.
FrugalCat December 21, 2020
I used the little bay scallops (much cheaper!) and shell pasta. The perfect forkful is a pasta shell with a scallop perfectly snuggled inside!
babswool September 28, 2020
Love this recipe - make it often. I too leave out the cheese and let whoever wants it to sprinkle on top of their individual serving.
bette April 13, 2020
Loved this...next time I would add more leeks..they really cook down and tho rich, better to have more than not enough!
Susan B. January 15, 2020
Exceptional dish! Here’s one tip for improvement that I haven’t seen in the comments and made it extra special: after the scallops are done, deglaze that pan with a bit of the wine. Strain to get a clean sauce and then pour over the plated dish. Perfection.
[email protected] September 21, 2018
Excellent recipe - delicious meal. I used Israeli Couscous instead of pasta and a tablespoon of lemon juice instead of the zest (adding it at the same time as the cheese).
haven B. April 2, 2015
I added asparagus for a seasonal twist. Incredibly delicious. Thanks for a technique lesson in carmelizing leeks; I can imagine this in many applications.
Muriel E. January 31, 2015
Loved it but the next time I will try it with cappellini - we felt that the toothy linquine overwhelmed the scallops a bit.
Muriel E. January 31, 2015
We enjoyed it and will make it again - but the next time with cappellini since we felt that the linguine overwhelmed the scallops.
Skyler23 May 23, 2014
This was unbelievably delicious. I followed the recipe closely but omitted the cheese (not fond of fish and dairy) my husband grated some onto his serving so we were both happy. This one's a keeper!
Lex N. April 7, 2014
Just made this tonight, and it was great! Next time I would stir in the leeks, THEN add the cheese and stir into the pasta so they don't make cheesy leek clumps. But overall, this was fantastic. Very tasty and light!
Irene Q. October 29, 2013
I made this a month ago. I some how missed placed recipe. I finally found it. Can't wait to make again. A ten in my recipe book.
fiveandspice November 5, 2013
Jen A. March 7, 2013
can i alternate the white wine with red or vodka?
fiveandspice March 7, 2013
Yes, I think you could. The red wine, of course, would change the color a bit, but I'd think the flavor of either would be nice.
bebe L. March 6, 2013
about to make this with chicken
fiveandspice March 7, 2013
Hope it went well!
walkie74 January 25, 2013
This beats the tar out of my usual recipe involving cream of mushroom soup and scallops. Way healthier, and probably tastes better too :)
fiveandspice January 25, 2013
Thanks! I hope you give it a try!
darksideofthespoon January 24, 2013
I want to eat this. Now. D:
fiveandspice January 24, 2013
I hope you do! :)
healthierkitchen January 24, 2013
Great recipe! I love caramelizing leeks!
fiveandspice January 24, 2013
Thanks! Me too!