I really enjoy scallops. Dr. O doesn’t. (I think it’s a texture issue, more than anything.) I’m sure if that’s what I really wanted to cook for dinner, he’d be a good sport, but I honestly prefer to prepare things we’ll both enjoy.
I was really excited, then, to find the “Cooking for One” recipe in the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food: Pappardelle with Sauteed Scallops and Peas.
Let’s get past the foreign-sounding ingredients and the potential horror of cooking with seafood. If you like scallops, this recipe is GOOD. And FAST. I literally had this on the table in 15 minutes, and I tend to be a leisurely cook.
I think the key to this recipe is quality ingredients. I really reaped the benefits of living in a bigger city with this one – certain things are just really difficult to find in smaller towns. I headed over to Central Market and picked up 1/4 pound of fresh (not previously frozen) sea scallops.
I also needed pappardelle (wide, ribbon-like noodles) for this recipe, which I was never, ever able to find when we were living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Central Market had two kinds from which to choose. Two kinds! Pappardelle comes in these little “nests,” which I thought was so cool. Each nest is one ounce, so that makes portioning things out pretty easy.
Beyond the scallops (4 oz.) and the pappardelle (2 oz.), the ingredients were simple: 1/2 cup frozen peas (thawed) , 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon butter (divided).
I started by cooking the pasta according to the package instructions. When that was finished, I drained it (reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water for the sauce) and returned it to the cooking pot with the peas. To that, I added the lemon juice, parsley, and 1/2 tablespoon butter. I tossed the mixture and added the pasta water gradually to create a thin sauce. After seasoning with salt and pepper, I put a lid on the pot to keep things warm and set it aside.
To cook the scallops, I started by patting them dry with a paper towel. This helps them adhere to the pan and brown more easily. I heated the other 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium, seasoned the scallops with salt and pepper, and dropped them in. Three minutes on one side, one minute on the other, and they were done. I scooped the pasta out of the pot and added the scallops to my bowl.
This meal was really delish, and it felt nice to put something special on the table just for me. The portion size was perfect too.
TIPS: Remember to save that 1/4 cup of pasta water! I’m used to just dumping everything into the colander, and I nearly forgot to do this. If you do forget, just run some tap water as hot as you can and use that instead. You’ll be missing a little salt and a minuscule amount of starch, but you’ll be fine.
Also, if you have a small stainless steel or cast iron skillet, I’d recommend using that over a non-stick skillet. The scallops will brown much easier.
I seem to have a knack for picking recipes that haven’t been posted on the Everyday Food Web site lately… Sorry. I’ve included exact ingredient amounts and cooking times in this post, but feel free to e-mail me (or post a comment with a request and your e-mail address) if you would like a more step-by-step version of the recipe. If you have the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food, the recipe is on page 61.