Tender gnocchi and scallops with the kiss of ocean flavor, all swimming in a pink sauce perfectly balanced with cream and tomato and jam packed with garlic and basil. What more could you want in a pasta dish? There is nothing like eating tender homemade gnocchi with potato flavor and just enough chew, and they pair so great with bay scallops! They are both just the right size to load up your fork and take a huge bite! Speaking of the size, that was the very inspiration for the dish!
How did I come up with this recipe?
Seafood and potato is a classic pairing that has been a long time favorite of mine. I knew I wanted to eat some sort of seafood yesterday, but I couldn’t decide between potato or pasta to go with it. That’s when I realized that I wouldn’t have to choose! Gnocchi is both things. Then I also realized that scallops are very similar to gnocchi in shape, and this dish was born. Just look at them here.
Using Frozen Scallops
The main thing to remember when using frozen scallops is DRY DRY DRY! Dry them on paper towels and make sure they are super dry when you put them into the pan. You could also use fresh for this recipe of course, but frozen tastes great if you make sure they are dry.
Typically you expect scallops to be seared on both sides, but when you are using bay scallops it isnt really reasonable to get a hard sear without overcooking them. As long as they are dry though, you can still get a little caramelization on one side.
Making homemade gnocchi
You could use store bought gnocchi for this if you wanted, but I love the taste of homemade and I love making them too! The above photo is after I boiled them, but I wanted to show a picture of them being made too. The benefit of making them also allows you to make them smaller so the scallops and gnocchi are a similar size.
Every time I make gnocchi I think I should do it more often! If you want a more detailed guide for making gnocchi, check out this one from The Clever Carrot.
Searing the gnocchi
After you boil them, drain and toss in a bowl with a little oil, then get them into a super hot pan with more oil. This stage is about making sure they don’t stick together and get a nice toast on all sides.
Add the scallops
Slide the gnocchi to the side of the pan and add in the scallops. Don’t touch or even salt them for the first 3-5 minutes! This will get a little color on the one side. Then you can salt them.
Build the sauce for the scallops and gnocchi
The sauce is a tomato cream sauce. Once the scallops are cooked, add garlic, butter, and black pepper and toss them together. Then add in the tomato, cream, and basil. That’s it! It comes together really quickly.
So good! creamy, chewy, and so flavorful. The scallops are super tender cause they only cook for a few minutes. The simple sauce tastes so good with the pasta and seafood!
Scallops and gnocchi is a decadent and indulgent dinner that is so great for a special occasion! It also feels right as a simple monday night dinner when you need some comfort. Because of how fast it comes together (as long as you have the gnocchi ready) you can whip it up any day!
Twists on scallops and gnocchi
You could do this with another seafood, but scallops is in the name of the dish after all, so it won’t be the same. I was inspired by the size and shape of bay scallops and gnocchi to make the dish, and that’s where it really shines to me.
I like to make larger batches of gnocchi and freeze them so this dish comes together in literally 10 minutes. If you want to do it with store bought gnocchi it can really be a fast dinner!
Scallops and Gnocchi in a Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 2 large russet potatoes
- olive oil
- 3/4 cup flour plus more
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 pound frozen bay scallops thawed on paper towels
- 4 cloves garlic sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
- 14 oz canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 15 leaves basil chopped
- chili flakes
Make the Gnocchi
- Bring the oven to 375. Use a fork to pierce the potatoes in a few places. Coat the potatoes in olive oil and place on a pan. Bake about an hour and a half to two hours until fork tender. Remove from heat.
- Peel the potatoes and run them through a potato ricer
- Add in about 1/2 cup of flour, the egg, and a pinch of salt. Stir together until it starts to form a dough. Pour onto a counter top or dough board with more flour on the surface. Start to knead and as it comes together, add more flour if needed. Do not over knead. Rest the dough for about a half hour.
- Split the dough in half and roll each half out into a long snake about 1 inch round. Use a spatula or butter knife to cut 1 inch segments of dough from the snake.
- With plenty of flour and a gnocchi board, one by one use your thumb to press the dough into a gnocchi board while sliding downwards to cause the gnocchi to roll up into a traditional gnocchi shape.
Make the Dish
- Bring a pot of water to a boil with plenty of salt.
- Boil the gnocchi until tender and floating, about 5 minutes.
- Preheat a large frying pan to high heat with some olive oil. Add cooked gnocchi and toss to lightly fry on all sides. This step also helps them get coated in oil and not stick together, but you need to be gentle and toss them well.
- Slide the gnocchi to one side of the pan and add in the scallops evenly to the other side. Cook for about 3-5 minutes without touching them in an attempt to get some color on one side of the scallops. With scallops this small, it isnt really possible to hard sear on both sides without overcooking them. We just want a little caramelization.
- Season the scallops with a good pinch of salt, then add the butter, garlic, and black pepper to the pan. Toss everything together and cook 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan and cook 1 minute. Add the cream to the pan as well as the basil and chili flakes and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve!