Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

Hi everyone! I hope you had a nice week (at least we finally had some sunny days here in IOWA).

Today I would like to share with you my recipe for baked scallops au gratin (Cape Sante gratinate). Maybe some of you don’t know that in Italy (and in other parts of Europe for sure) scallops are sold at fish markets still in their shells and in all their parts (not only the “abductor muscle”, the white meaty part but also the orange “coral”), and even when you go to eat sea food in Italian restaurants, scallops are always served in their shells and with their orange part (the roe or coral) still attached. I’ve surfed on the  web to try to find out the reasons why scallops in the Mid West are sold only out of their shells and without the roe, and some are economical (is much cheaper to commercialize scallops without their shells and inflated with water) and others are apparently for safety reasons. Anyway, in my opinion whole fresh scallops in their shell is something that should absolutely be tried at least once in life, because the taste is much better and intense (the roe is delicious, in taste it is very similar to the scallop muscle itself, only a bit more briny; which to some, is a major bonus)  and because – and I think you could agree with me – they look much more appealing!

By the way, you all know I live in the USA, so, to overcome my problem (sea scallops without the shell)  I bought the shells online and prepared my scallops the Italian way. Once again you will forgive me if the quantities of ingredients I will provide are just merely indicative because this recipe is one of those where I always eyeball the ingredients.  Remember to rinse your scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel before to place them in the shells. Preparing them will take just few minutes and baking time is approximately 20-30 minutes.  It’s the perfect appetizer for impressing your guests, or for a romantic dinner (don’t forget their aphrodisiac attributes).


12 scallop’s shells

12 fresh scallops washed and patted dry

fresh parsley finely chopped

about 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil

2-3 tbs. Brandy or Cognac

sea salt to tast

about 2/3 tbs. plain crumble bread

powdered garlic to taste (optional)

lemon slices for decoration


Rinse you fresh scallops and pat them dry with a paper towel. Arrange the shells in a big (or two smalls) oven sheet and place the mollusks in the “corner” of each shell (this way the dressing you are about to add, will cover completely the scallops).

Prepare the dressing: in a 8 oz. sized bowl mix 2 oz. (150 ml.) extravergin olive oil, 2-3 tbs. cognac (or brandy), 1 pinch sea salt, a couple tsp. finely chopped parsley, 1 pinch powdered garlic and – one at a time – two or three tbs. crumbled bread.

Cover the scallops with about two tbs. of the dressing  and keep adding it until it’s all gone.Bake at 400 F. (200 C.) for about 20 to 30 minutes. Your scallops will be ready when the dressing starts to become golden and crispy. 

Serve you scallops still hot with few lemon slices (some of your guests may like the idea of sprinkling few drops of lemon on top of their scallops) and don’t forget to warn about the temperature of the shells! They will be super hot!


TIPS: – some people panfry the scallops in butter or oil before baking them because apparently it gives it extra taste. In my humble opinion, if the scallops are really fresh, there is no need to add extra fat on them, they will be super tasty just baked!

– don’t try to speed up the baking process by heating the oven at more than 400 F. The excessive heat will burn the oil and the scallops will be ruined.

– Sea scallops can be a very nice appetizer but when I prepare them (my kids won’t touch them) for my husband and I, twelve are enough to fill up our bellies!

– The scallop dressing is absolutely delicious so when you serve them, don’t forget to leave on the table a big bread loaf… you’ll need the bread to clean up the shells! YUM!

– The shells I bought are dishwasher proof, so I can wash and reuse them each time!

Tell me, have you ever eaten scallops in their shells? with or without coral ?

How did you like it the most?

I really hope you liked my recipe this week, and if you did, please  share it, like it, leave a comment to support my blog! And if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to subscribe: it’s completely free and you will receive my weekly recipe directly at your email address!





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32 thoughts on “Baked sea scallops au gratin: with shells is so much fancier!

  1. Ciao Silvia, scallops are one of my favorite foods and you are right that they are much better fresh. It is more expensive here and a lot of work, but I do occasionally buy live scallops in their shells and shuck them myself. The flavor and texture are so much better. You are right that the extra virgin olive oil will burn if cooked above 200C/400F, but I prefer to cook my scallops hotter and shorter so they are more juicy inside and because the browning adds flavor. That is why I would wear them first, not to add more oil or butter. My favorite recipe is to bake them with almonds.
    PS all real scallop shells are dishwasher proof.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Stefan! To be completely honest, many times I burn the oil too and I donut mind the taste at all, but I couldn’t get a decent picture of a scallop with burned oil, and neither I’ve always been served scallops with burned oil at restaurants, so I though It was right to give May reader the easy answer… but yours is much more complete! By chance, do you know for sure what’s the reason why in the Us they are sold only out of the shells?


  2. These look amazing. I do love fresh scallops. I don’t think I have tried them baked, but i don’t mind the eating the orange coal part too. It’s funny that you hardly ever see them in their shells in North America. I wonder if it is because it might make them more difficult to transport?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Josy! I don’t think it’s because of the trouble in transportation, I think it is because without shells they can collect more in less room and they can pump them with water so they weight more and they become more expensive

      Liked by 1 person

          1. That is really interesting!

            I hardly ever buy scallops here because I am nearly always disappointed. I am used to them in Japan (where they are both huge, and full of flavour)

            If you ever see sashimi-grade scallops from Japan, try those! They’ll still have the orange coral and they taste amaaazing! We occasionally find them at the Korean supermarkets here in Canada, so maybe you can find them in the USA.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I love scallops but i have never had them in a shell, baked. Such an inspiration, i will have to try soon because it looks delicious!! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny, we just had scallops for my husband’s birthday dinner, last night. And, of course, without shells! We do have a friend who is a waterman and scallops off the east coast. So, you’ve inspired me to ask him to get us some scallops with the shells–and the roe. I love anything briny! Now, I’m dying to try! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Rebecca! You are so lucky to have a fisherman friend! Fresh sea food is the best! Just so you know, even if the muscle and roe are edible, make sure to “clean” properly the scallops, you friend will probably know which part needs to be taken away before eating it!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I absolutely love eating scallops au gratin! Luckily for me I live in Italy and we buy them fresh with the roe! My Sicilian hubby loves to grill them on the bbq! Yes it works and is delicious too! Love the sound of your dressing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I just learned something… I didn’t know that scallops were cooked & served in their shells. I’ve never seen them sold here in the states that way (as you stated), so thanks for supplying the alternate way to cook them in shells. They look wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

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