Pasta is one of those foods that can be paired with just about anything. If there’s a more versatile staple than pasta, I would like to know what it is. It goes well with red meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables, either as a side or a main course.
Just the other day, I made a red sauce with fresh tomatoes, herbs, peppers and onion from the garden. After adding some shredded pheasant thigh meat and simmering the mixture for a while, I used it as a topping for some rigatoni. It was as good as any entree I’ve eaten at a restaurant lately.
The National Pasta Association has a new website, www.pastafits.org/. And a quick look at the site reveals a lot more similar pairings that have my mouth watering. Also, Candice Kumai, author of “Pretty Delicious” cookbook and ambassador for the Pasta Fits website campaign, serves up several tips for one of America’s favorite foods.
One tip that caught my eye was how lean protein like fish pairs great with pasta, as is illustrated in the following recipe for Pan-Seared Scallops with Skinny Pesto Fettucine
Pan-Seared Scallops with Skinny Pesto Fettuccine
3 cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup raw almonds
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
18 large sea scallops, rinsed
1 pound whole wheat fettuccine
½ cup dry white wine
To make the pesto: Combine the basil, almonds, garlic, and salt in a food processor and pulse until somewhat mealy. Gradually add the olive oil, processing until the mixture is finely chopped yet still has texture, about 1 minute. Pulse in the lemon juice.
To prepare the scallops: Whisk together ¼ cup of the lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl. Add the scallops, turn to coat, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions.
Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the scallops and cook, without turning, until nicely browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook the other side until browned, another 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside on a plate.
Add the wine and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits and simmer until the sauce is reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the fettuccine to the skillet along with the pesto. Turn off the heat and toss everything together. Arrange 3 scallops on a plate and serve hot.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 558 calories, 27 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 23 grams protein, 10 grams fiber, 1 gram sugars, 485 milligrams sodium, 52 grams carbohydrates, 15 milligrams cholesterol.