Scallops and Pasta

I like being on a first-name basis with the managers of the meat and produce departments at the supermarket. They always have good tips.

Where I do most of my shopping, Hugo’s in East Grand Forks, produce manager Loren Kartes always has been very helpful. Recently, he rounded up the foods I needed for a mango salsa, which our Herald team sold at Relay for Life event June 5.

The same can be said of meat department manager Denny Wynne. Just this week, he pointed out that the bay scallops that are on sale were a real good deal. He said it’s hard to get them and when they do, they usually cost a bit more.

I like bay scallops. They are considered the best of the scallops available in the United States. They are very adaptable and easy to prepare. They also are highly nutritious, being rich in omega-3 oil and low in calories.

So, on Denny’s suggestion, I bought some bay scallops. They were a perfect match for a nice red sauce, which we served over pasta.

I prepared the sauce by sauteeing about ¾ cup of diced onions, 2 stalks of diced celery and 3 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil. Then, I added a small can of tomato sauce, 4 tablespoons of tomato paste, about ½ cup of white wine, 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.

After simmering the sauce for about 30 minutes, I added the scallops, and cooked for another 10 minutes. (You don’t want to overcook scallops.) The result was fantastic.

I’m thinking about picking up a few more scallops and using them with the following recipe, which is flavor-packed with red peppers.

Pasta with Scallops and Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
¾ cup roasted red peppers, patted dry and coarsely chopped
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup low-fat ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, peeled, minced
1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
½ pound pasta (about 3 cups dry)
½ pound dry (not soaked in water) sea scallops, patted dry
Place the garlic in a skillet over medium heat. Toast the garlic, shaking the pan often, until the skins are spotty brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the garlic, cool and then peel and coarsely chop.
In a food processor place the garlic, peppers, Parmesan and ricotta cheese, parsley, 1 tablespoon olive oil, shallot, thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt; process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season as needed with salt and black pepper.
At this point, the pesto can be covered with plastic wrap (press the wrap directly onto the surface of the pesto) and refrigerated up to 3 days.
Bring large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Season it with kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook, stirring often, until al dente, about 8 minutes. When done, reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same skillet in which the garlic was toasted. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and sear until nicely browned on each side, 3 minutes each side for 1½- to 2-inch diameter scallops.
Add the pesto to the cooked pasta and toss to combine. Add reserved pasta water a little at a time until it’s a sauce consistency. Place in serving bowls and top with seared scallops.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 440 calories (27 percent from fat), 13 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 46 grams carbohydrates, 34 grams protein, 647 milligrams sodium, 56 milligrams cholesterol, 213 milligrams calcium, 3 grams fiber.