These rich and flavorful Easy Vegan Scallops are served in a flavorful garlic butter sauce over pasta with sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. This dish feels fancy enough for date night or a dinner party, but it’s easy enough for a weeknight meal.
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Hey Internet, continuing on my vegan seafood kick, I’ve been wanting to try vegan scallops for a while. I had some great non-vegan ones at a restaurant many years ago and I’ve been missing them ever since.
I love trying to recreate different seafood using vegan ingredients. So far I've made and loved: vegan fish tacos, vegan lobster rolls, chickpea tuna melts and chickpea tuna casserole, watermelon tuna, vegan salmon, vegan ceviche, and I'm hoping to continue that trend.
This recipe is honestly amazing, though I’ll admit I sound pretty conceited saying that… But I don’t care, it's so dang good my husband and I both yelled in excitement when we tasted it. Even my omni mom loved it!
My dad grew up in New England, so I am thinking maybe it was his influence but we ate a lot of seafood growing up, and I grew to love a lot of it. I tried sushi at an early age and I've always been a fairly adventurous eater (although there were some picky-eater years for sure).
Whenever I post a vegan meat or seafood recipe, inevitably at least one person always asks, "why do vegans want to make food that looks or tastes like meat?"
And of course, there are probably a lot of different answers to that question. Certainly I cannot speak for all vegans.
But for me, there are certain foods that are traditionally non-vegan that I love the taste of. However, I'm not going to exploit an animal just for my tastebuds. Also, most vegan replicas are a lot healthier, especially the homemade ones.
Anyway, these vegan scallops are a great substitute and they're also a heck of a lot cheaper than real scallops. I really hope you'll give this recipe a try.
Why This Recipe Works
So the vegan scallops are made of king oyster mushrooms! The stems are thick cylinders and you can slice them into an scallop shape. But the flavor also imparts so much, and with the right marinade, it really does taste like scallops. So good.
These are king oyster mushroom scallops, but you can also make hearts of palm scallops. They’ll just be smaller—cuter!
And you can serve these with whatever you like. I chose pasta because I wanted to use up the leftover marinade (I mean, why let delicious go to waste) and I incorporated it as a pasta sauce. SO, so, SO good.
Ok I need to stop saying so good, but really, it is.
Maybe it sounds a little weird but I love adding some sun dried tomatoes and herbs in the pasta (and maybe some grated vegan parmesan) because the flavors are even better that way.
Feel free to throw in some spinach or kale and let it wilt in there for extra greens or serve it with a side of veggies.
Alright, let’s jump into this deliciousness.
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Ingredients and Substitutions
- 6-8 large King oyster mushrooms: Since scallops are a pretty specific look, you’ll need king oyster mushrooms, that are very thick and mostly stem. You may need more if yours are short. I always buy too many and just use leftovers in stir fry. You can often find them at Asian grocery stores or other international markets with a produce section. Alternatively, you can use hearts of palm that come in a can or jar. These are slightly smaller but work well. The mushrooms tend to absorb a little more of the marinade because they’re a little spongy, so that’s why I prefer them in this recipe.
- 2 cups roasted garlic broth OR vegetable broth: So I LOVE Better Than Bouillon stock paste. The one I used here is Roasted Garlic Better Than Bouillon and it’s SO GOOD. I can find it at my normal grocery store, it’s vegan, and it lasts forever in the fridge. If you’ve never heard of this brand, it’s a jar of concentrated stock paste and you just mix a spoonful with hot water to create broth (about a teaspoon per cup, but I find that you can use less). Alternatively, just use vegetable broth and MORE GARLIC if you are a garlic fiend like my husband and I are.
- 4 cloves fresh garlic (or more, to taste): Speaking of which, we’ll sauté fresh minced garlic at the base of this sauce, and it’s so good so I don’t recommend skipping unless you can’t have garlic. Minced shallot or onion is also a nice option here.
- 2-3 tablespoons vegan butter: If you are not oil-free, I recommend sautéing the garlic in vegan butter because it’s just delicious, especially if you want it to be a little fancy. I also use the vegan butter to cook the scallops in. If you are oil-free, skip it and sauté in a little broth.
- 2 tablespoons white or yellow miso paste: This helps give an umami seafood-ish flavor. If you can’t have soy, try chickpea miso—it tastes just as good.
- 1-2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy Sauce: I use a reduced sodium soy sauce (the regular stuff is a little too salty for me) to help flavor the sauce. If you are gluten-free, substitute reduced sodium gluten-free tamari. If you are soy-free, use No-Soy or Coconut Aminos.
- 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar or dulse flakes: To really get a seafood flavor into the vegan scallops, you need either ume plum vinegar or dulse flakes. Crumbled nori sheets can also be used in a pinch! If you don’t care about them having the seafood flavor and just want it to be savory, skip this altogether and they’ll still be delicious.
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika: It’s optional, but a pinch of smoked paprika really amps up the flavor for such a small addition.
- 1 pound pasta for serving: You can really serve these king oyster mushroom scallops with whatever you’d like, but I used this thick bucatini pasta.
- Vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast: It’s optional, but I used it to slightly thicken the pasta sauce at the end. I use about ⅓ cup but you can use as much or as little as you'd like. You could make a little cornstarch or arrowroot powder slurry at the end if you prefer. But the nutritional yeast does not play a huge role in the flavor if you do add it—it’s not overwhelming.
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes: They are so flavorful and go perfectly in this dish! Note that if you are oil-free, you’ll want the kind in plastic rather than the jarred kind which is packed in oil. I actually did use the kind in plastic here because I feel this recipe is rich enough without adding more oil from the oil-packed tomatoes. I simply rehydrate mine in hot water then drain them before adding them to my pan with garlic.
- Fresh parsley (finely chopped) and vegan Parmesan cheese for garnish - I like Violife vegan parmesan cheese for this recipe but I also have a homemade vegan Parmesan topping that’s really good.
How to Make Vegan Scallops
- Start by mixing the marinade ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup.
- Cut the mushroom stems into thick 1-inch rounds. Save the heads for a stir-fry like my vegan chop suey. Score one side of the mushrooms by drawing light lines with your knife across it. This helps the mushroom absorb more marinade and flavor. Add the mushrooms to the marinade and let them soak for 6-10 minutes, flipping or tossing them with your hands (gently) halfway through the process. DO NOT discard the leftover marinade as it will be the base of our sauce.
- If you’re serving this with pasta, start the pasta water since it won’t take long to cook the scallops. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve a little starchy pasta water if draining, but I like to just use tongs to transfer cooked pasta directly to my sauce.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet (I use All Clad Nonstick—safe and good quality) over medium high heat. Add a little vegan butter or a splash of broth to the pan and add in as many scallops as will fit with a little breathing room (about ¾-inch). Do two batches if you need to. Allow the vegan scallops to cook for 5-6 minutes on one side undisturbed (I’d go 3-4 if not using vegan butter), then flip and cook another 2-4 minutes until nicely browned on both sides. Set them aside.
- If you’d like to add a little more vegan butter or broth do that now. Add the garlic and sun dried tomatoes and sauté for a minute.
- Add the remainder of your marinade or broth mixture and stir well. Let heat for a few minutes, and then transfer the cooked pasta to the pot with tongs. Stir well and taste the sauce. If it’s too thick, add a splash of the starchy cooking water. If it’s too thin, add some grated vegan parmesan or a little nutritional yeast, or you can make a little slurry from 3 tablespoons of water and a tablespoon of arrowroot powder or cornstarch. Mix until thick and to your liking.
- Stir in most of the chopped parsley, serve and sprinkle with remaining parsley. Give it a grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of vegan parmesan. Enjoy!
- Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days, but like with most pasta dishes, this is best the first night.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not really, surprisingly! Because of our marinade, they really do taste very close to scallops, in my opinion.
Yes, but I would keep it at a maximum of an hour or two. The mushrooms can start to fall apart or get too mushy. I think they have the best texture (and great flavor) by marinating for only 10-20 minutes.
Store your vegan scallops separately from the pasta in the fridge in airtight containers. Reheat gently with a little vegan butter.
3-4 days I think is the maximum, but I'd try to eat it up within the first 2 days. Like most pasta, this dish is best on the first night. If you think you won't eat it all, you can easily halve or quarter the recipe, especially if you're cooking for one (or for two who don't eat a ton, unlike me and my partner lol).
You can use hearts of palm instead. They will be a little smaller, but they'll still work!
Pro Tips for Success
- Prep your ingredients, including the mushrooms, before beginning cooking. Since we are already working with two burners simultaneously, it's much less stressful to have everything ready to go.
- Don't like all the oil sun dried tomatoes come in? Get the dry version that comes in a vacuum sealed or plastic package. Rehydrate in hot water then strain and add to the pan when you sauté the garlic. That's what I did and it still tastes great. I've already got vegan butter in there, so this helps save some calories and cut down on any greasiness.
- To thicken any excess liquid in your finished pot of pasta, throw in some grated vegan parmesan or nutritional yeast.
More Fancy Vegan Food
Like your food on the fancier side? I mean, I love cooking so much that it’s often a good choice for date night or when entertaining guests.
Here are a few of my favorite fancier vegan recipes:
- Vegan Steak
- Vegan Carbonara
- Lemon Tahini Broccolini Pasta
- Vegan Creamy Pasta
- Vegan Pasta Puttanesca
- Vegan Paella
- Tofu Poke Bowl
- Vegan Swedish Meatballs
- Vegan Baked Feta Pasta (I used homemade vegan feta)
More Vegan Seafood
I’m starting to really love making vegan seafood! Here’s the ones I’ve published so far--be on the lookout for more!
- Vegan Ceviche
- Watermelon Tuna
- Vegan Tuna Casserole
- Vegan Tuna Melts Side note: What else can I do with vegan tuna?
- Vegan Lobster Rolls
- Vegan Salmon
- Vegan Fish Tacos
- I also made vegan lox, an exclusive recipe in my Plant Based Jewish Recipes e-book.