Scallops with Rich Tarragon Tomato Sauce & Linguini

EpicureanPiranha | January 23rd, 2011 - 23:44

Tarragon is a wonderful, aromatic herb with a lovely flavour somewhat like anise and basil combined, and a hint of lemon. It marries itself beautifully with chicken, fish, seafood, and egg dishes, and is used in many world cuisines. Often used in Mediterranean and French cooking, tarragon is a key component of two well-known herb preparations: “herbes de Provence” (where it’s combined with thyme, rosemary, oregano, savoury, marjoram, and lavender), and in the French “fines herbes” (fine herbs mixture where it is combined with chives, parsley and chervil).  ”Fines herbes” is an herb mixture used in many types of dishes and sauces to impart a delicate bouquet.

Scallops w Tarragon Tomato Sauce & Linguini 3 16

Sauteed sea scallops nestle on a bed of linguini fini topped with a rich tarragon-flavoured tomato garlic sauce.

I particularly love tarragon with tomato-based sauces and seafood So last evening I created this rich tomato sauce finished with a hint of heavy cream, and served it on a bed of linguini fini garnished with large, plump, sea scallops quickly sautéed in butter until golden. Wonderful!

You can prepare the sauce ahead of time and add the cream once you’ve reheated it, just before cooking the seafood. This sauce also tastes delicious with monkfish medalions, baby clams, or sauteed garlic prawns (large shrimp).

Sofrito 608w

Cooking the sofrito for the sauce.

Rich Tarragon Tomato Sauce:

Metric Ingredient Prep
60 ml Olive oil Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
1 Med-large onion Finely chopped.
1 Medium carrot Finely chopped.
1 Large stick celery Finely chopped.
4 Large garlic cloves Chopped.
10 ml Dried tarragon
5 ml Herbes de Provence Dried herb mixture.


Metric Ingredient Prep
60 ml Dry vermouth Such as Dry Martini & Rossi or other Italian dry white vermouth.
7.5 ml Knorr® Instant Chicken Stock Mix* Or 3/4 of a chicken stock cube, crumbled.
60 ml Water
2 x 800 ml Canned chopped tomatoes Drained before using.
2.5 ml Fine sea salt
5 ml Dried tarragon
2.5 ml Fresh coarsely ground pepper I add about 12 turns of the pepper mill.
Tarragon Tomato Sauce

Gently simmer the sauce until the rich flavours have developed and the sauce has thickened.

  • Heat the oil over medium-heat in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, and add the next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for 10 – 13 minutes or so or until the onion just starts to colour.
  • Lower the heat to low, and add the garlic. Cook while stirring 30 seconds.
  • Add the tarragon and herbes de Provence, stirring well, and continue cooking for a minute being careful not to colour the garlic.
  • Now while stirring, add the dry vermouth, the chicken stock powder, and the water and bring the heat back up to medium. Cook for a minute or two.
  • Drain the chopped tomatoes and add to the pan. Add the seasonings and tarragon, and stir well. Raise the heat and stir until the sauce starts to bubble, then immediately lower to medium-low. Cook for an hour or more, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened. It should look rich and thick, and the colour should be deeper.
  • You can reserve the sauce until later or keep it well covered in the fridge for several days at this point.

Finishing the Sauce and Preparing the Pasta and Seafood:

Metric Ingredient Prep
30 ml Italian flat-leaf parsley Finely chopped quantity.
45 – 60 ml Rich (35% or whipping) cream
300 g Durum semolina Linguini Fini (no. 11) This is a finer linguini, available is larger supermarkets, some fine groceries, and Italian food shops. Just use the regular-sized linguini (no. 13) if you can’t find it.
30 g Butter
10 ml EVOO
12 Very large raw sea scallops Use a size that is about 22 scallops per Kg (10 per lb). Thaw well if frozen!
  • Warm four large plates in the oven. §
  • Place a very large pot of water on the stove, adding 15 ml salt and bring to the boil. Dry the scallops well with paper towels.
  • Meanwhile, finely chop the parsley and set aside. Add the pasta to the rapidly boiling water and bring back to the boil while stirring. Linguini fini will cook in 6 minutes, or slightly longer for regular linguini.
  • If the sauce was refrigerated, heat it through completely over medium heat stirring frequently, before adding the cream. As soon as it starts to bubble, lower the heat to med-low, add the cream and stir for one minute, and lower heat to low. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Heat a very large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over med-high heat. Add butter and oil. As soon as the butter starts to foam, add the scallops leaving ample space between each. DO NOT STIR OR MOVE THEM or they will start to boil! Sprinkle with sea salt and coarsely ground pepper. The butter will start to colour; that’s perfect, but do not let it burn! After 2 minutes, using long metal tongues, turn the scallops over, starting with the 1st scallop you added to the pan (the scallops should be golden brown). The pasta should be ready now.
  • After 1 minute, reduce heat to medium, divide the drained pasta between the warm plates, and top each with a generous helping of sauce. Nestle 3 scallops on the sauce in each plate, then using a soupspoon, drizzle the scallops on each plate with about 15 ml (1 Tbs) of the scallop cooking juices (the butter and the caramelised bits). Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Scallops w Tarragon Tomato Sauce & Linguini 12

Serve sith a steamed green vegetable, or follow with a salad of peppery rocket and parmesan.


  • * Knorr Instant Chicken Stock Mix is sold in a small 150g tin (can) with a green plastic lid for preserving freshness. I find it has a fresher flavour than the stock cubes, and it’s so easy to use. Naturally, if you have some fresh chicken stock, just reduce it a little and use 60 ml of this instead of the stock powder and the 60 ml water.
  • § I like using deep bistro-sized, wide-rimmed pasta bowls.
  • If you wish to serve green vegetables to accompany this dish, make sure they are ready to cook before you start cooking the pasta, and start cooking so they will be ready just before serving.
  • Do not serve parmesan or other cheeses on this dish.

4 Responses to “Scallops with Rich Tarragon Tomato Sauce & Linguini”

  1. Luana says:

    I love, love, love Scallops Provencal so I can’t wait to try this (even though it doesn’t have s. Provencal’s garlic). But first I have to figure out how to translate ml into tablespoons etc! Is it too difficult to put tsp. etc beside ml in the recipe ?

    brand new member,Luana

    • Hello Luana :-)

      Thank you so much for registering and for your comment.

      There are two reasons for why I prefer to use metric and weight measurements instead of volume (except for liquids of course!):
      (1) weighing ingredients in grams is so much more accurate than trying to measure them by volume, and
      (2) the metric system is based on the decimal system (divisible by 10) and is so simple!

      But to answer your question. A simple conversion isn’t always possible, because the Imperial, US, and Australian measurement systems are all different even though they sometimes use the same terms! For example, take a cup of plain (all-purpose) flour. The cup measurement is different depending on whether it’s a Canadian, US, or Imperial cup! Which do you use? Also, an 8 fl oz cup of flour, depending on the type of flour and the humidity, will have different weights! This difference can be enough to ruin your cake or pastry.

      Whenever I mention a cup measurement in my recipes, it’s either because it’s an old recipe I’ve had handed down to me, or one that I found in a cookbook or on the web. This will be an 8 fl oz cup = 250 ml = Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, South African and Lebanon cup measure.

      That being said, you only need very precise measurements when baking, or when prepapring candies and cooked icings and desserts and so on. Most savoury dishes don’t require the same level of precision. Even for most cakes and desserts, I personally always use my metric measurement cups if an 8 oz cup measurement is specified ~ what’s essential in baking is proportion!

      Here’s a very short guide of approximate measures, and below this I’ve provided links to two different conversion guides, and to a conversion calculator, that you can use:

      Metric …. Canadian/Australian Measures
      1 ml …. 1/4 tsp
      2.5 ml …. 1/2 tsp
      5 ml …. 1 tsp
      60 ml …. 1/4 cup
      80 ml …. 1/3 cup
      125 ml …. 1/2 cup
      250 ml …. 1 cup

      There are loads of conversion guides available on the web, but some are confusing, and some are incorrect. Here are a few which are useful:

      1. The UK BBC Good Food Guide’s conversion calculator
      2. What’s Cooking America cooking conversion guide (for US measures)
      3. Creative Cake Decorating conversion guide for making cakes

      I hope this helps :-) Please let me know if you still have any questions.

      ~ marie, the ©EpicureanPiranha

  2. Sure looks like a great dish..I will try it one of these days…


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