November 28th, 2011

{recipe} Scallop Pasta with Lemon Toasted Breadcrumbs

Simple Scallop Pasta
While the rest of you have been taking a short break from cooking, I’ve been a madwoman in the kitchen. See, I didn’t cook anything for Thanksgiving (a little painful if I’m being honest!), so I spent the rest of the long weekend cooking up a storm. On the menu? Soups and seafood—I guess I was craving a break from the meat, bread and potatoes fest. And some baking—I guess I was not craving a break from desserts. Sigh. Let’s get back to the seafood, shall we?

I used to make scallops all the time. These sweet, quick-cooking jewels are a perfect family food. They have an easy texture and understated flavor that works especially well for little kids. They are a sustainable, low-mercury seafood. And they are killer with nothing more than browned butter, lemon and thyme, which is how I make these 10-Minute Scallops, one of our favorite quick family meals. Another favorite is this Simple Scallop Pasta, which I made again this weekend for the first time in ages. How could I have abandoned this recipe for so long?!

This is too good—and too simple—not to try, especially since I know you need a rest from the meat and potato fest, too. Right? All of the pieces that make up this dish are quick-cooking, but you can make this recipe even easier by cooking your pasta up to 2 days ahead of time. You can also toast the breadcrumbs up to 1 day ahead of time—just store them in an airtight container at room temperature.

You’ll also notice that I threw in a shake of Tony’s Creole Seasoning at the end. I was inspired to add a little kick since there’s something vaguely New Orleans-y about this dish. You don’t have to, but it sure does taste good. Alternatively, use a shake of Old Bay to take this dish to New England—also fitting!

No matter where this dish transports you, enjoy it at home with your family. I think you’ll be happy that you did. You and your family might even fall (back?) in love with scallops. We have!

Scallop Pasta with Lemon Toasted Breadcrumbs
(can be shared with kids 10+ mos)*
serves 4-6

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
1 lb of long pasta such as spaghetti
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
Zest of 1 1/2 lemons, divided
2 tablespoons salted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb fresh bay scallops
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
2/3 cup chicken or seafood broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh tarragon, chopped, to taste
Tony’s Creole Seasoning, to taste (optional)

1. If you like toasting breadcrumbs in the oven (as opposed to in a skillet), preheat to 350 degrees. In the meantime, bring one gallon of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add pasta, stir, then begin measuring cooking time; cook pasta 2-3 minutes fewer than indicated on the package. Drain pasta saving 1 cup of cooking water. Do not rinse the pasta; set aside. (You can also cook the pasta up to 2 days ahead of time—instructions here.)

2. Prepare the breadcrumbs: Toss crumbs with 3 tablespoons olive oil and zest of 1 lemon. If toasting in the oven, spread prepped crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, shaking 1 or 2 times, until golden brown and fragrant, about 5-7 minutes. Otherwise, place in a skillet set over low heat for about the same time, shaking 1-2 times, until golden. Set aside.

3. Heat butter over medium heat in a pan large enough to hold all of your pasta. As soon as it has melted, add garlic. Saute until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add scallops; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the garlic just begins to caramelize and the scallops begin browning on one side. Flip the scallops and continue cooking until the other side also turns brown.

4. Once the scallops are just cooked through and everything in the pan has a nice caramel color, add the white wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half and then, keeping the pan on the heat, quickly transfer just the scallops to a plate. Set scallops aside and add the broth, heavy cream and about 3/4 of the cooking pasta water to the hot pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, allowing the sauce to come together.

5. Add pasta to the pan, tossing to make sure it all gets well coated with sauce. Add fresh lemon juice and the remaining zest from 1/2 a lemon. Keep tossing until the pasta is thoroughly coated and heated through.

6. Take the pasta off of the heat and add toasted breadcrumbs to taste (I use about 4 tablespoons, leaving some to sprinkle on each plate before serving), Parmesan and tarragon. Toss to combine well. Gently toss in scallops. Serve with more breadcrumbs and Parmesan sprinkled over the top of each serving and, if you like, a shake of Tony’s.

*Note: Fish and shellfish are among the top 8 allergenic foods, which is why some suggest waiting to introduce seafood. Many experts, though, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, agree that there is no proven benefit to holding off on high allergen food introductions beyond 6-months-old. Read more here about how to introduce high allergen foods, and speak to your pediatrician about what’s best for your child.

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