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Pea Pesto Pasta with Brown Butter Scallops

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There isn’t anything more delightful than this Pea Pesto Pasta with Brown Butter Scallops. Rich and creamy arugula pea pesto tossed with angel hair pasta is served topped with brown butter seared scallops and parmesan cheese. And the best part? This quick and easy meal is ready in under 30 minutes! You’ll love it served with an Aperol Spritz and a slice of Lemon Cake for dessert!

Quick and easy pasta dinners are one of my favorite go-to weeknight meals. They are so simple to throw together with pantry staples in 30 minutes or less using minimal effort. I love everything from Pasta al Limone, Creamy Mushroom Pasta and this Spicy Lobster Bucatini with Burrata! If you need more scallops in your life, Brown Butter Scallops with Sautéed Kale is incredible!

Ingredients You’ll Need For Pea Pesto Pasta with Brown Butter Scallops

Fresh greens – Basil and arugula. I love the strong almost peppery and spicy flavor arugula adds to the pesto, but feel free to use all basil if you like!

Frozen sweet peas – Thaw them first so they will blend more easily with the other ingredients. The peas are sweet and creamy and add so much flavor to this spring-inspired pesto sauce.

Cheese – Ricotta cheese gives the pesto a creamier texture and Parmesan-Reggiano is a must-have pesto ingredient!

Scallops – I used frozen scallops. Since they cook so fast make sure they are fully thawed and dried with a paper towel before cooking.

Pasta – I served the pea pesto with angel hair pasta. Feel free to swap it out for penne, linguine, or spaghetti!

For the rest of the ingredients, please refer to the recipe index card below!

How To Make Pea Pesto Pasta with Brown Butter Scallops

For the pesto. Add all the pesto ingredients to a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth. Make sure to scrape down the sides as needed. Taste and adjust salt if needed.

For the pasta. In a medium pot bring water up to a boil with a generous amount of salt. Cook your pasta of choice according to the package instructions. Drain water reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water for the sauce. Add pasta back to the pot then toss with pesto to coat. Add a splash of the pasta water as needed to thin out the sauce.

For the brown butter scallops. Heat a small skillet on medium-high heat. Add butter or ghee, once hot add in your thawed scallops with a pinch of salt. Cook for 30-40 seconds per side.

Serve pesto pasta topped with scallops garnished with fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Tips and Tricks

Don’t crowd the scallops. They will cook very quickly so you want them to sear in the brown butter and not steam. Work in batches if needed.

Make the pesto ahead of time. The pesto will last in the fridge for up to 3 days so you can make a big batch of it for easy lunches or dinners!

Reserve some of the pasta water. It’s full of starch that will thicken the pesto nicely and will help the sauce coat the pasta.

Recipe FAQs

What can I use instead of pine nuts in pesto? Walnuts or almonds can be a substitute for pine nuts. Or if you are nut-free, peas are a delicious choice as well! What is the trick to browning scallops? Use high heat and don’t crowd the skillet. Scallops will cook super fast, like 30-40 seconds per side, so it’s important that you’re using medium-high heat. Also don’t crowd the skillet, too many scallops in the pan will cause them to steam rather than brown.

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To a blender or food processor, add the olive oil, arugula, peas, zest, lemon juice, ricotta, parmesan, crushed red pepper and a few pinches of salt. Pulse until the pesto is smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Give it a taste and adjust the salt to taste. Set aside. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the angel hair pasta per the package’s instructions (mine said about 6 minutes). Reserve about a 1/2 cup of pasta water (you can eyeball this measurement). Immediately return the pasta to the pot. Add the pesto and and toss until evenly coated. If needed, add a splash or two of pasta water. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, set over medium-high heat, add the ghee or oilbutter. When hot, add the scallops and sprinkle them with a few pinches of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 at a time, as to not crowd the pan. Cook on the first side for about 30 seconds to 40 seconds; flip and cook on the opposite side for about 30 seconds. Repeat until you’ve worked your way through all of the scallops. Divide the pasta and scallops amongst bowls. Garnish with a few sprigs of basil and Parmesan. 

Tips and Tricks

Don’t crowd the scallops. They will cook very quickly so you want them to sear in the brown butter and not steam. Work in batches if needed.
Make the pesto ahead of time. The pesto will last in the fridge for up to 3 days so you can make a big batch of it for easy lunches or dinners!
Reserve some of the pasta water. It’s full of starch that will thicken the pesto nicely and will help the sauce coat the pasta.

Serving: 4g | Calories: 755kcal | Carbohydrates: 93g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 592mg | Potassium: 604mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 599IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 168mg | Iron: 3mgNutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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