by John Ryan
These two recipes go together to make dinner. While at first glance, they seem complicated, you'll find that they are all prep. You will spend 20 minutes or so getting set, then Bam!...5 minutes over a hot burner and dinner is ready. That's why the recipe is organized the way it is into three parts: Ready, Set, and Go.
While one cook can do this, it's much better to collaborate because both the pasta and scallops cook quickly. Have your assistant watch the pasta, then stir in the pesto while you cook the scallops.
Shopping list/pantry list
Sea scallops, 6 ounces per person
Angel hair pasta, (use approximately 3 ounces per person)
1 big bunch curly parsley
Salt and pepper
This makes about 1 cup, enough for at least 12 ounces of dried pasta.
1 bunch curly parsley
1 lemon (for zest)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1. Wash the parsley by dunking and swishing it in a bowl of water, then shaking it dry. Rip off the leaves. You should have roughly 2 heaping, sort-of-packed cups of parsley. Peel the lemon zest with a potato peeler (avoid the bitter white pith, use only the yellow peel). Reserve the lemon itself for later use in the pasta recipe.
2. Put the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest in a food processor. Chop well, scrape down the sides, then turn the machine on again and pour the olive oil in slowly. Done. Put the pesto in a bowl.
Your assistant drops the pasta in the water and is responsible for taking it off at the right time. (Assistant: while the pasta cooks, warm the plates by setting them—if they fit—briefly over the pasta water. Then, when the pasta is done, drain the noodles, put them back in the pan and stir pesto in to taste—you probably won't use all the pesto.)
Meanwhile, cook the scallops:
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
Sea scallops (about 12 ounces)
Salt and pepper
The scallops will take about 5 minutes, so make sure the pasta is about done before starting. If you're doing both recipes alone, cook the pasta, stir in the pesto and keep it warm in a low oven while sautéing the scallops.
1. Heat the skillet over a medium-high burner. Add oil to the hot skillet and lay the scallops in, shaking the pan gently to keep the scallops skating around (hopefully a thin crust develops that keeps them from sticking). When they're all in the pan, stop shaking and let them cook until they are golden brown—a couple minutes. Then turn them and cook the other side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. When the second side is lightly browned, cut one open. If it looks medium rare, turn the burner to high. Squeeze half a lemon into the pan and cover. Do this quickly because you want the lid to trap the sizzling lemon juice and glaze the scallops. Count to 5, take the lid off and serve alongside the Parsley Pesto Pasta.
Bay scallops are the small, cute little guys about the diameter of a dime. Sea scallops are at least the size of a quarter. They can be larger and up to a couple inches thick. With huge sea scallops I cut them in half.
You will sometimes find a small muscle on the side of scallops. This will easily peel off. It's not bad, or funky. It's just a little chewier than the scallop.
If sea scallops aren't available, try mahi-mahi fillets. (Mahi isn't a substitute for scallops, I just like mahi done this way.)
Both chef and musician, John Ryan wrote the Just Good Food blog from 1996 through 2001.
This page created May 1999
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