Feb 9, 2011

Capesante alla Veneziana recipe

After two consecutive pastry posts, I felt it was time for some savory seafood.

Capesante–Italian for Coquille Saint-Jacques–have long been the attribute of pilgrims traveling on foot to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, on the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James. The English name of these mollusks is in fact 'pilgrim scallops.'

Their bivalve shell is also often linked to the image of Venus, the Roman Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility. In the famous Botticelli painting, a stunning blonde Venus is born emerging from the sea, standing naked on a scallop shell.

12 whole, closed scallops
A bunch of Italian flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
Extra virgin olive oil
100 g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Open your scallops using an oyster-shucking knife, or by sliding the blade of a sharp paring knife in the slit, and delicately forcing the valves open. Save the more concave half shells, discard the flat ones.

Remove the slimy, brown membranes and separate the yellow/orange coral part from the white fleshy disc. Rinse the scallop meats and corals in cold water and pat dry. Then dredge them in the breadcrumbs.

Rinse and thoroughly dry the 6 half shells, they will be your serving dishes.

Sauté the garlic and parsley in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add the scallops and cook briefly, until golden, about 3 minutes on each side. Dribble with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place 2 molluscs and corals in each valve, daub with the cooking juice, and serve at once. Keep the chilled bottle(s) of Pinot Grigio handy.


Buon appetito.


  1. I love scallops and your photos of them are so pretty

  2. Wonderful post. It sounds delicious and it looks beautiful. Your photography is lovely, and you do a wonderful job of composing the pictures. I should take some lessons from you. Next time I'm in Rome we will get together, non? I will be trying this recipe this weekend. It looks too good to pass up.



  3. Theresa~
    Thank you! It's a really quick and tasty way to make them, without fussing around with the oven...


    I'm very happy you'll be making these, please report back. I'm sure you'll love its simplicity.
    When are you coming to Rome?!?

  4. I think I just decided what to make for dinner tonight!

  5. That is too, too pretty and enticing. I shall be adding this on to my increasingly long list of what I must eat in Italy this autumn. I shall be so busy eating I won't see anything but that's fine. I'll be well fed. Until then, I can recreate from your scrumptious dishes.

  6. What beautiful photos! Sounds and looks delicious:)

  7. Wonderful post! But where to you find fresh scallops in Rome? I never see then at my fish monger (on Via Venezia) and when I do see them elsewhere, they look pretty sorry and old. So, do tell! (time for a fish store roundup??)

  8. Why not scarf them down raw like the Puglians? Even easier! ;-)

  9. wow! looks delicious! I want to eat them now even if it's 9.30 in the morning! brava!

  10. Thanks so much for the beautiful photos and great recipe. Now that we live near the ocean, I am constantly looking for fresh recipes like this! Thanks!

  11. A coincidence maybe but a good choice for San Valentino!

  12. Laura-
    Yay, mission accomplished!!

    Good thing about scallops is they don't have an off season, like oysters... so you can have them all year long! Can't wait to meet you...

    And local too! (Sacllops are indigenous to virtually everywhere!)

  13. Stephanie-
    I'm happy you enjoyed this. Grazie!

    Galluzzi has sorry-looking scallops?! Who woulda thunk...
    I get mine from my fishmonger Mirko, whose dad has a fishing boat in Fiumicino. He sells in Parioli, and I order them 2 days in advance.

    Those Puglains! They managed to make me eat raw octopus at dawn donw by the port in Bari, washed down with lukewarm beer!!

  14. Anna-
    Grazie!! Anytime is a good time for seafood, no?

    How lucky to live by the ocean... it's my dream!

    Totally unintentional! I'm not a huge fan of the whole Valentine's Day marketing thing (sour grapes?)

  15. I love scallops and your recipe as shown by the pictures looks delish! I can't wait to try!

  16. I made this last night - although finding scallops still in the shell was not possible - it was delicious! Served them on sauteed swiss chard. I told my husband it was your recipe and I think he has fallen in love with you. You are now tops on his must-meet list for Italy!

  17. Chcmichel~
    Please report back when you do, I love this kind of feedback!!

    The shells are just for show. I'm happy they turned out well, the sauteed Swiss chard is an excellent idea! Looking forward to meeting you and hubby!


  18. Hello Lola, I Hope all is fine. Love those Scallops, So simple yet so good....

  19. Buonissima!!!
    Oggi e venerdi, si mangia pesce.. ;)

  20. CChuck~
    Some folks are often intimidated by cooking seafood. This is one of those recipes that break that myth!

    Bene!! Buon appetito allora!!

  21. Ah, being able to live close to the sea and get fresh briny scallops. The ones I've seen at the local fish market are driven up from the coast, and are a little suspect... Great recipe!

  22. Andrea~
    That's another dream: living by the sea...

  23. Thank you for this visually stunning and delicious-sounding post! I will try this too.

  24. Laurel~
    That's great! Let me know how they turn out, OK? Thanks for the kudos ;)

  25. We live miles from the sea .. but I am sure going to look out for a good fishmongers.. I know we have one in Oxford.. and when my "chef" son returns from duty in the Falklands , I am going to ask him to cook this for me :-)

  26. Anne~
    Or you could cook it for him, to celebrate his return! Ciao

  27. sai che non ho mai mangiato capesante? la tua foto é molto gustosa!!! bacione

  28. Complimenti! Your site is beautiful. I love scallops, if I can make them look like your photo, I may even get my daughter to taste them!

  29. Colores~
    Devi provare allora!!!

    Grazie! Actually kids love scallops: no bones to pick, scales, no fish-like shape... plus eating them out of the shell is fun.

  30. Oh, my gosh, this is so beautiful it's practically food porn!

  31. i think i'll stop at this post. i'm starved, now, definitely. *sigh*

  32. Paz~
    I love your hungry comment escalation!
    Have a great week, friend. Baci