Easy Cajun Scallop Pasta Recipe

Cajun scallop pasta may sound like a dish that is on a restaurant menu because, well, it probably is. But believe it or not this dish can also be made in the comfort of your own home. If you're a lover of scallops and spices, then this recipe is perfect for you. And not only is it incredibly filling, but it is also full of incredible ingredients that taste amazing.

Recipe developer Tricia Wheeler has brought us this unique dish, which is full of flavor and is sure to please everyone at the table. While there are plenty of great things about it, there are two things that stick out to Wheeler. "On the one hand, I love how this dish is full of flavor and feels very special, but on the other hand, it can be made quickly and is simple enough for a weeknight," she says. 

This recipe is sure to be a new favorite in your rotation for either a family meal or one to make to impress party guests or perhaps some visiting in-laws. No matter what the occasion may be, this pasta is also great for pleasing a crowd. Even better, it's fantastic in both the summer or winter. "This dish could be enjoyed with a glass of chilled white wine in the summer or could be warm and comforting in the winter!" Wheeler shares. Is there anything this dish can't do?

Gather the ingredients

There are quite a few ingredients that you will need for this recipe, but most of them are spices, some of which you may well already have hanging out in your pantry. Plus, those spices will come together to create a seriously delicious taste experience. First on the list are salt, a diced onion, olive oil, and cherry tomatoes. In addition, you need a few cloves of garlic, Cajun seasoning, and heavy whipping cream.

You'll also need cayenne pepper, large scallops, and blackened seasoning to your list, along with spaghetti, lemon, and thyme. Once you have everything, it's time to begin.

Boil the water and sauté the onions and tomato

To begin, take out a large stockpot, fill it with water, and bring it to a boil. Be sure to add in 2 teaspoons of salt to the water before the pasta. Adding salt to the boiling pasta water will allow your noodles to absorb the salt as they cook and give the noodles a nice flavor that they would have otherwise.

In the meantime, take out a medium-sized skillet and put it over medium heat. Add in the diced onion, olive oil, tomatoes, smashed garlic, salt, and one teaspoon of the Cajun seasoning. Keep the heat on until everything softens and becomes fragrant, which should only take a few minutes. Then, you can remove it from your heat and set this aromatic mixture to the side.

Whisk sauce and cook the pasta

Now, grab another medium-sized saucepan and heat it to medium-low. Then, add the smashed cloves of garlic, heavy cream, a ½ teaspoon of salt, 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning, and a ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Cook for 20 minutes. Be sure to whisk as you go, as this helps the cream reduce into a thickened sauce without clumping or burning ingredients on the bottom of the pan.

During the last 10 minutes that the cream is reducing, go ahead and tend to your pasta. Simply follow the instructions on the back of the package as cooking time and instructions will vary based on the brand and type of pasta noodle that you're using. Place the noodles into the boiling water and let them cook.

Prepare and sear the scallops

While the pasta is cooking and you've finished reducing the sauce, it's now time to cook the scallops. Be sure to pat each scallop dry and remove any side muscle before you begin. Dip the top and the bottom of the scallops in the blackened seasoning to coat on both sides.

Take out another skillet — yes, you will have some dishes to take care of at the end of this process — and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in that pan. Since you'll be blackening the scallops, a technique that requires high heat, don't use a nonstick pan, as the coating degrades under searing temperatures. 

"The best way to add authentic Cajun flavor to your dish is to blacken the scallops in a hot skillet," Wheeler notes. When the pan is up to a relatively high heat, add the scallops, searing for about 2 minutes on each side. You'll know the scallops are done when they're firm to the touch and no longer opaque on the sides. They should also be nicely blackened, of course. When complete, take them off heat but keep them warm, perhaps under some tin foil or even in an empty, turned-off microwave.

Mix everything together

Now, drain the pasta and add it to a large bowl. Next, add the juice of a lemon and a few sprigs of thyme leaves to the tomato mixture. Turn the heat back on for the pan and add the heavy cream to the tomato mixture. 

Then, you can go ahead and add your pasta to this pan. Mix everything together to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Be sure to taste and add any additional seasonings that you prefer, including salt and pepper to taste.

Serve and enjoy

Now, it's time to serve the pasta, which is no doubt the best part of this recipe. You can use a plate or a bowl, though of course, it's all about personal preference. Whatever dish you use, place the scallops on top of the pasta and garnish with any remaining thyme leaves. Wheeler says that the dish is good by itself, but if you need a little something extra on the side, "a nice toasted garlic bread would go well [with the pasta]."

If you have any leftovers, Wheeler says she recommends "microwaving any leftovers so you don't take a chance of over-cooking the scallops." Smart move, as no one wants to deal with rubbery overcooked scallops.

Easy Cajun Scallop Pasta Recipe
5 from 41 ratings
Cajun scallop pasta may sound like a dish that is on a restaurant menu only. But believe it or not this dish can also be made in the comfort of your own home.
Prep Time
Cook Time
Cajun Scallop Pasta on plate
Total time: 50 minutes
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed, divided
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
  • 2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound of large scallops
  • 1 tablespoon of blackened seasoning
  • 1 pound of spaghetti
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 6 sprigs of thyme, divided
  1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt.
  2. In a medium-sized skillet on medium heat, sauté diced onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add tomatoes, smashed garlic, a ½ teaspoon of salt, plus 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. Sauté until everything is softened. Remove from heat.
  3. In a separate medium-sized saucepan, add two smashed cloves of garlic, heavy cream, a ½ teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning and, ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
  4. Whisk and cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes whisking as you go until thickened. This helps the cream reduce into a sauce.
  5. During the last 10 minutes, while the cream is reducing, cook and drain pasta according to package instructions in boiling water.
  6. Pat scallops dry, then remove any side muscle and dip the top and bottoms of the scallops in the blackened seasoning to coat.
  7. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a new skillet over high heat. Add scallops to the pan and sear on one side for approximately 2 minutes, turn and sear on the other side for about 2 minutes. Scallops are done when they are firm to the touch and no longer opaque on the sides and nicely blackened on both sides.
  8. Add the juice of half of a lemon and a few sprigs of thyme leaves to the tomato mixture, put it back on the heat, add heavy cream to the tomato pan.
  9. Add pasta and toss to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  10. Serve pasta with the blackened scallops and garnish with remaining thyme leaves.
Calories per Serving 1,019
Total Fat 53.6 g
Saturated Fat 28.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 190.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 102.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.5 g
Total Sugars 10.3 g
Sodium 1,140.6 mg
Protein 32.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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