This Seafood Alfredo with Scallops and Pumpkin is made with a quick, from-scratch pasta sauce, and is a perfect fall Date Night dinner!
Welcome to October! Here at Champagne Tastes, October is exciting! Why? It’s National Seafood Month! (Hooray!) This month, I’ll be embracing the fishy side of this vegetarian and seafood blog.
What does Seafood Month mean for you? It means… whatever you want it to mean. If you’ve been trying to include more seafood in your diet, October is a fabulous time to start! If you already eat seafood on a regular basis, October is a perfect time to look at the quality of your seafood, as well as at how sustainable it is.
To start things off, let’s talk sea scallops! This Seafood Alfredo with Scallops and Pumpkin is made with high-quality, sustainably-sourced sea scallops, seasonal pumpkin, and an easy, from-scratch pasta sauce!
Buying Sea Scallops
When you’re shopping for scallops, you’ll see different types. For this recipe, skip the tiny bay scallops, and look for larger sea scallops. (Bay scallops are small and hard to sear.)
Next, check the label. Look for sea scallops labeled “additive-free,” “chemical-free,” or “dry-packed.” If they aren’t labeled, they probably have been soaked in a phosphate bath. What does that mean for you?
When scallops are treated in a water and chemical bath (or “wet-packed“), the scallops look bigger. They plump up– some estimates say they can be up to 30% bigger. When you buy these scallops, it seems like you’re getting massive shellfish, but the extra bulk is fake. Since scallops are sold by weight, you’re paying more for each scallop… for water.
Worst of all, the scallop’s buttery, sweet flavor is altered by the soapy-tasting phosphate bath.* These scallops are also basically impossible to sear well, because they are simply too watery.
I’ve been on a mission to find chemical-free scallops where I live in Central Appalachia, and so far– I can’t find them locally. Instead, I buy my scallops from my favorite seafood supplier– Orca Bay. Their All Natural Scallops are free from additives, sustainably sourced, and sear beautifully. Chemical-free scallops are hard to find for me locally, so I love being able to order high-quality, delicious scallops online!
(I also happened to taste their scallops back-to-back with another brand’s scallops– and was blown away by the difference. These are, without a doubt, my favorite scallops!)
Order Orca Bay Online: Use my Ambassador Code: champagnetastes for 15% off!
Find Orca Bay locally: Use their store finder.
Making Seafood Alfredo with Scallops and Pumpkin
First off, let me apologize, and tell you that this is not a “one pot meal,” and it’s not even a two pot meal. You’ll need two pans AND a pot– which is a lot more clean-up than I normally like to have. Trust me though, and make this anyway!
First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. In the meantime, heat the butter in a large pan, and when it melts, begin whisking in the milk, cream, and finally the cheese. When everything has melted together, add the pumpkin and whisk again.
Culinary Tip: If we were feeling fancy, we could call this a ‘pumpkin and butter roux,’ instead of a traditional flour-butter roux, because the pumpkin will thicken up the mixture just like flour would.
In another pan, preferably a heavy pan, sauté your bell pepper. Add the pasta to the boiling water, and cook it until it is ALMOST, but not quite, finished cooking. Then, pull the pasta straight from the hot water and add it to the pumpkin sauce. Toss it together until the sauce coats the pasta, and then add the bell pepper. Cover the pasta, and set it aside.
Turn up the heat on the pan you used for the bell pepper. Add a little butter, and wait for the butter to melt. Pat your scallops dry, season them lightly with salt and cayenne, and then set them carefully into the hot pan. Sear them for about two minutes per side, and then serve the pasta and scallops together immediately!
*A Note on Using Wet-Packed Scallops: Do you have a package of wet-packed scallops already in your fridge or freezer? Try soaking them in an ice water bath with the juice from one lemon for 30 minutes. The lemon-water bath will help get rid of the soapy taste. However, I don’t recommend searing these scallops, because they’ll still be too wet for a hard, crisp sear. Instead, try grilling them.
**A Note on Scallop Serving Sizes: Sea scallops can be pricey, but a little goes a long way. When you’re shopping for sea scallops, keep in mind that a serving size is 4oz. Depending on the size of the scallops, that’s only 3-5 sea scallops per person. This is especially true when you’re serving the scallops with a starchy dish like pasta.
Seafood Alfredo with Scallops and Pumpkin
Fall Seafood Date Night
- 4 oz fettuccine
- 1 TB butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly shaved
- 1 cup pumpkin purée
- 1 TB olive oil
- 1 sweet bell pepper, julienned
- 1 TB butter
- 7 oz sea scallops (3-5 per person, depending on the size of scallops) Orca Bay scallops recommended
- 1 tsp ground cayenne
- pinch salt
- 6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook fettuccine about two minutes LESS than the package directions call for.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan or wok, heat butter over medium heat until it melts. Then, whisk in the milk and cream. Next, add the Parmesan, and continue to whisk until it melts. Add the pumpkin, and stir again.
In a large, heavy-bottomed pan (like a cast iron pan), heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add bell peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes until softened. Set peppers aside. (You'll use the same pan to cook the scallops.)
About 2 minutes before the fettuccine is al dente (or, 1-2 minutes before it's perfectly cooked), remove the pasta from the water with a pasta spoon, shake off excess water, and drop the pasta straight into the pumpkin sauce. Toss the pasta into the sauce to coat the pasta. If the sauce seems too thick, add a little of the pasta water (a tablespoon at a time), until the sauce will evenly coat the pasta.
Add the reserved bell peppers to the pasta, and toss to incorporate. Remove pasta from heat, and cover to keep it warm.
In the heavy-bottom pan used to sauté the bell pepper, add 1 TB butter, and raise heat to medium-high. If the butter begins to smoke, lower the heat slightly.
Pat the scallops dry, sprinkle lightly with salt and cayenne. Add scallops to the pan, and let them sit on one side for 2 minutes per side, until each side is golden brown.
Divide pasta between two plates, and then divide the scallops between the dishes (3-5 per plate). Garnish with fresh basil if desired. Serve immediately.
*Calorie Information was calculated per serving using My Fitness Pal. For a lower calorie meal, use all 2% milk instead of milk and cream, but the sauce will be thinner.