Spaghetti with Scallops

Spaghetti alle Cappe Sante


This simple, tasty scallop sauce is one I learned from my mother. It’s really just scallops sautéed with garlic and parsley, but what makes it special are the breadcrumbs, which soak up the scallop flavor and cling to the pasta. My mother always used bay scallops, but it’s easier to find good sea scallops and I’ve discovered I prefer them here.


  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 6–7 sprigs flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Salt
  • 1 pound spaghetti (spaghettini is also good)
  • ¼ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs


  1. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 6 quarts of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil.
  2. Cut three-quarters of the scallops into ½-inch dice. Finely chop the remaining scallops.
  3. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Finely chop enough parsley to measure about 2 tablespoons.
  4. When the water for the pasta is boiling, add about 2 tablespoons salt, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente.
  5. Put the garlic, parsley, hot red pepper flakes, and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium-high heat. When the garlic is sizzling, add the diced scallops. Raise the heat to high, season with salt, and cook until they have lost their translucent color, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chopped scallops; season them with salt and cook, stirring, for another minute. The bottom of the pan at this point should have some browned cooking residue. Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water to loosen those tasty bits from the bottom of the pan, then remove from the heat. (If there is no browning at the bottom of the pan, don’t worry about it and don’t add any pasta water).
  6. When the pasta is done, drain well and toss with the scallops. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and the breadcrumbs, toss again, and serve at once.