Seared Scallop Pasta with Kale Pesto

Last Updated on September 17, 2023

Perfect golden-brown ButcherBox seared scallops crown this green pasta made with seasonal market greens such as kale, but feel free to use chard or spinach or a mix of all three. Pesto ingredient classics like Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, nuts, garlic, lemon and olive oil season both the pasta and the scallops in this relatively quick dinner.

Seared Scallop Pasta with Kale Pesto

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 lb ButcherBox Sea Scallops
  • Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 12 oz spaghetti
  • 1 large bunch Tuscan or curly kale, ribs and stems removed
  • 6 tbsp chopped walnuts, plus more for serving
  • 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus more if desired
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter


  • Open the bag of scallops and drain out excess liquid in the sink. Remove the small yet tough muscle from each and discard, then pat the scallops very dry. Set scallops aside on a plate in the fridge.
  • Start making the pesto by filling a large pot of water and bringing to a boil. While the water is heating, tear the kale leaves off the stems and discard stems. Add the walnuts, parmigiano-reggiano, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a blender or food processor. Then add the kale to the boiling water and swish it around with tongs so it submerges and cooks evenly. When it is very tender, but not falling apart or mushy, about 5 minutes, drain the kale and squeeze out excess water with the tongs (or hands, if cool enough). Transfer to the blender. 
  • Blend the pesto ingredients, scraping down when needed. If your pesto needs a little more liquid to get it moving, add a tablespoon or 2 of water, but not more than needed. Blend until smooth and bright green. Season with salt and black pepper, pulse and then taste. Add more of the pesto seasonings, if desired. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  • Fill the large pot again with water, season heavily with salt, bring to a boil again and cook the pasta until al dente, saving 1 cup of the cooking water right before draining. Drain pasta and add pasta to the large bowl with the pesto.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. While it’s heating, season the scallops with salt and then add them to hot butter one by one one with space in between (you may need to cook in batches). Sear, without moving them until dark golden brown, about 2 minutes, then turn the pieces over one by one, and sear the other side until golden brown, about another 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with more scallops, if working in batches.
  • To serve, toss the pasta and pesto very well with tongs, adding a ¼ cup of reserved pasta water at a time to warm the pasta and thin out the sauce to your liking. Transfer to serving plates and top with the scallops, more chopped walnuts, freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
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