Must. Eat. Now.

I am not pleasant when I’m hungry. And by the time I get home from work, I am very very hungry, so you can just imagine what a barrel of laughs I must be. So dinner needs to come together quickly and I’ve learned that it’s just as easy to pull together a fabulous quick dinner, as it is to pull together an average quick dinner.

Last night, on my way home, I stopped by Union Market, one of those places where it’s a really bad idea to go if you’re hungry. I drooled over the idea of a pint of Ciao Bella for dinner, but managed to walk out only with some tomatoes, smoked mozzarella, basil, and sea scallops. I like to keep a stash of fresh pesto in the freezer, whether I’ve made it or purchased it from Fresh Direct, because it lasts for ages and has a multitude of uses.

This meal is super-easy. Rachel Ray easy. It’s really all about the quality of the ingredients you’re using, and you really can’t go wrong with fresh sea scallops, as long as you don’t over cook them. Look for dry sea scallops, which aren’t called dry because they need moisturizing; it means they haven’t been pumped full of water, to plump ‘em up and make them look more appetizing at the seafood counter.

I’ve been told many times, in different restaurants, that Italians have this thing about not putting cheese on seafood dishes; something about fish coming from the sea not going with cheese that comes from the cow. Apparently, this goes back centuries. I think it’s a load of bollocks. I’m of the if-it-tastes-good-go-with-it school, and most things are greatly improved with a hefty shower of parmeggiano reggiano.

I walked in the door and started cooking at 8:16pm. I had this all ready by 8:42, and it would have been even faster had I not included a caprese salad. Ha! 26 minutes! Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray.

Whole Wheat Linguini with Spinach, Pesto, and Scallops

Serves two
3/4lb. dry sea scallops, adductor muscle removed
1/2lb. whole-wheat linguini
Salt & Pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 10oz box frozen chopped spinach
3 Tbsp. fresh pesto
1/2 lemon (but have the other half handy, in case you want to add more)
Freshly ground parmeggiano reggiano

1. Rinse and pat dry scallops. Season liberally with salt and fresh pepper.
2. Boil water and get your whole-wheat linguini going. Be sure to cook it for at least a minute or a minute and a half less than the package instructs. It’s best al dente, and you’ll finish cooking it in the sauce.
3. Heat a saute pan on high and add olive oil. Once oil is hot, gently lay scallops in it, being careful to let them stay exactly where they first hit, so you get a nice crispy, brown sear. After 3 minutes, turn the scallops, and sear on the other side for another two minutes (cooking time may be less, depending on their size). Reserve in a bowl, covered.
4. Microwave spinach, covered, for three minutes. Plunk it into a mesh strainer and press on it with a large spoon, to get all the water out. Alternatively, you can bundle it into a clean dishtowel and squeeze it.
5. Drain pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, just in case you need to thin the pasta sauce.
6. With the heat on medium, toss the pasta back into the pot, along with the pesto, the spinach, and the liquid that’s accumulated underneath the scallops. If the pasta seems too dry, add the reserved pasta cooking water, a little bit at a time, not more than ¼ cup. After a minute, remove from the heat.
7. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Taste. Add more lemon, if needed.
8. Serve with scallops on top, and lots of parmeggiano reggiano.


Anonymous said...

How do you know if your scallops are done?

Andrea said...

You basically want to cook scallops until they're just opague in the center, but figuring out when they're done is more of an art than a science. It depends hugely on the size of the scallops you have. The ones i was using were fairly large; if they're really small, they might not need more than a minute per side. Unfortunately, it's a bit of trial and error. They become much firmer to the touch as they finish cooking, and they get rubbery when they're overcooked. Let me know if you give it a shot!