Last Updated on 22nd April 2022 by
This seafood delicacy is one that pairs well with all sorts of dishes. Scallops make for a great dish on their own, but if you put them together with the right dish, that just take them to a whole new level.
My love of scallops means I am always trying new pairings and seeing what will work best with them. How you season and prepare the scallops determines what kind of sides to have with them.
Scallops have an interesting, if subtle, taste to them. They are slightly nutty and buttery and benefit from a bit of seasoning and the right sides to help accentuate their flavours. I wouldn’t really serve them on their own. I think they do best with some accompaniment.
So, what to serve with scallops? Let’s take a look at some of my favourite scallop meals.
I suggest a nice long pasta to stand out in contrast to the smaller scallop medallions. Most people will serve scallops in small, bite size partitions, so I think having some variety in your food shape and size makes for a more interesting plate. The linguine can be flavoured with alfredo sauce or a light lemon reduction or butter sauce. All of these will pair well with the scallops and thin noodles absorb sauce well, making for a very flavourful bites where you don’t have to chase the sauce around your plate to get the flavour in each bite.
If you are looking for what to serve with scallops that is quick and simple, you can’t go wrong with some fast and easy linguine or other long pasta, like angel hair.
Creamy Creole Lentils
If you couple the fairly bland scallops with some boiled lentils, you get bland on bland. Not very interesting, right? You can spice things up considerably, though, by making creamy lentils with Cajun seasonings.
You boil your lentils, add in some coconut milk, chilli pepper or pepper sauce, along with some salt and pepper, and you have flavourful, savoury lentils to pair with the scallops. When I am looking for a way to add some protein to the dish and make it more filling, this is one of the top choices for me.
I played around with the recipe on the lentils a few times and have tried a number of variations, and I like the creaminess of the coconut milk with the spice of the creole seasonings and how they play off the scallops. All that flavour from the lentils just makes the slightly bland scallops so much more welcoming on the plate.
Do you want to know what to serve with grilled scallops? The best side dish for grilled anything is potatoes and mashed potatoes are my favourite way to have this vegetable. Make them creamy and flavourful, I say, adding in plenty of milk, salt, and butter, and then top the mashed potatoes with some chives, parsley or other garnish for some flavour and colour. What a combination! Best of all, this dish is fairly simple to make, so it’s a winner all around.
Pumpkin, Beef and Black Bean Chilli
If you have some fresh pumpkin lying around and are wondering what to serve with pan seared scallops, I say pair these two together in a dish that’s more work than a lot of what I have suggested so far. However, it is well worth the extra effort, and I think you will love how it all comes together. This isn’t a complicated or tough dish to make; it just takes some time. You have to plan ahead to prepare all the different things that go into it.
So, what I would do for this dish is boil the pumpkin, keeping that part of it really simple. Then, you cook up some ground beef in a skillet. Once again, this is a simple food to make for this dish. The black bean chilli is more complex. You probably won’t find it on store shelves. You can start with black beans and then add in some chilli pepper powder and a few seasonings. Make it to your liking and make it just as spicy or mild as you want.
You put all of that together to make a hearty chilli and have your pan seared scallops one side. Nothing here is complicated, as you can see, but it will take some work to get everything cooked and hot at about the same time. You’ll probably have a mess of a kitchen when you are done, but the taste is something you have to experience at least once. This is down home cooking at its best.
Pan seared scallops are a personal favourite of mine. I like the slight spiciness you get and how it adds a layer of texture to the meal. What to serve with seared scallops? I like to have this kind of scallop dish with something of a similar texture, so grilled veggies are my go-to.
Take some asparagus spears, carrots, squash, tomatoes, and potatoes and put them on the grill for a few minutes until why start to have black marks on them. Then season with a little garlic salt, butter or black pepper and serve with the scallops. Delicious!
I always wonder what to serve with bacon wrapped scallops, because that’s protein on protein there. I don’t want to add more protein or more carbs to the dish. I want something light and healthy. However, scallops wrapped in bacon is kind of guilty pleasure. I know it’s not healthy for me, and I feel it needs something else that’s a comfort food as an appropriate companion.
I like how creamed corn work with the scallops and the bacon. It handles the saltiness and the fat without feeling overly healthy. It’s certainly not bland either. Creamed corn is hands down one of my favourite veggies, and I think it makes for a good health-conscious but not overbearingly healthy dish to go alongside the dressed up scallops.
Surf and Turf
When looking for what to serve with scallops as a main course, I am always reminded of the surf and turf dishes I see on menus. I often don’t go for those because that is a lot of food. It’s kind of heavy meal, but they make a really good pairing. If you want scallops to be your side and want something else to be the main course, I nominate steak. Steak should always be the main course if it is an option.
I joke, but these two go really well together. I don’t question what to serve with scallops for dinner when I have some steak in the freezer or fridge. I know I will be putting them together and cooking the steak really tender so it pairs well.
Grits and Dinner Rolls
The Southern dish grits isn’t as well known as I think it should be, but the warm, creamy comfort of this food is something that is begging to be tried at least once in your life. I think a lot of people miss out on grits by brushing it off as a weird dish that only Americans in the South eat. The milled corn served kind of runny and hot is a great combination dish for scallops and dinner rolls. The different textures work together so well and easily answer the question of what to serve with sea scallops.
The problem with putting these three together is that there can be too much butter flavour to go around. Scallops have a bit of a buttery flavour to them already, and you probably serve dinner rolls with butter too. Then you are supposed to serve grits with salt and butter, traditionally speaking. You can forgo some of that butter, I think, to make these worth together well. Just salt the grits, and then don’t bother with butter for the dinner rolls, perhaps having them with a slice of cheese instead.
Like I said earlier- how you prepare your scallops helps determine what to serve with them. So, when I am making scallops Provencal, I usually like to pick a pasta as a companion. What to serve with scallops Provencal? I like bowtie pasta for their bite-size shape and how well they stack. You can put a pile of them on your plate in a creamy sauce and serve that with scallops and some green garnish on top. It looks lovely. Topping it all with some parsley or a sprig of cilantro will give you a beautiful dish that tastes as good as it looks.
Now you have some ideas for what to serve scallops with. I hope these help you make really good use of your scallops and you don’t just fix them up to sit alone on a plate. There are tons of good pairings besides these, and the ones I listed are just favourites of mine that I have tried. I bet you will find some favourites of your own as well, and I hope you do share them with us down in the comment section.
I'm Pauline, a retired patisserie chef, mother of four and now a full time food blogger! When i'm not cooking i love long walks, reading thriller novels and spending time with my grandkids. Head to my about me page to learn more about the woman behind the food! You can find my Facebook here