Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scallop Pesto Pasta and Roasted Garlic

I grew up in Oklahoma. When you grow up in a land-locked state, you don't eat a lot of seafood. In fact, I'm pretty sure the main source of seafood when I was growing up was Long John Silvers, and we lived in a tiny town so we didn't get it often. That, fish sticks, and tuna noodle casserole were my exposure to seafood. I didn't even know you could eat fish that hadn't been dipped in batter and fried until I was in college, at least. So to say I shy away from cooking it would be an understatement.

And I don't just shy away from cooking fish. I pretty much avoid cooking anything that lives in water. But this week before my grocery run I logged on to download coupons, and I found a really good coupon for scallops. So I opened my recipe book, found this recipe, and decided we'd have this for dinner tonight.

Not having ever purchased uncooked scallops before, I had no idea how much they cost. I got to the store and a 1.5 lb frozen bag was over $22. Made my $3 off "awesome" coupon seem measly. But I found another 1 lb bag with smaller scallops for just under $9 and decided I'd go ahead and try it just this once.

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the results. It could stand some tweaking, and my cooking technique needs some refinement, but it tasted good, and in the end, that's what matters.

1 box of angel hair pasta (8-12 oz)
1 jar pesto (1/2 to 3/4 cup, depending on how much pasta you make)
1 lb scallops
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground pepper
3 Tbsp butter

Cook pasta according to directions. In the meantime, combine flour, salt, and pepper in a ziplock bag. Put scallops in bag, shake to coat. You just need a light coating, so don't get carried away.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallops and cook for 3-5 minutes until browned, turning regularly.

When pasta is finished, drain. Combine pasta and pesto. Top with scallops.

It seriously is that easy. It takes all of 10 minutes, depending on how long it takes water to boil on your stove. If you put the scallops in about when you put the pasta in the boiling water, they'll finish pretty close to the same time.

Things I'd change:

1. I'd make my own pesto, or find a brand I like better. I bought the store brand "Safeway Select" from the refrigerated pasta section. It was only ok. If you have a good/easy pesto recipe (or know a good ready-made brand), please share.

OR I'd make the lemon cream sauce I saw on The Barefoot Contessa the other day. Not at all healthy or light, but it looked yummy and the lemon would compliment the scallops.

2. I'd use the larger scallops it they weren't twice the cost of the small ones.

I'd also like you to know that my 3-year-old geek ate scallops and pasta with pesto for dinner. OK, to be honest, she made a gagging sound after eating the scallop, but she didn't spit it out, and she ate a bunch of the pasta. I call that a victory.

Note to self: do not give child angel hair pasta with pesto after she's already had a bath and is in her pajamas.

I also heated up some brown and serve sourdough bread and made some roasted garlic to spread on it. I could pretend I knew how to do that and tell you about it, or I could just send you to the website I used. It was yummy, and now I have roasted garlic to throw in other things (like mashed potatoes) this week.

This made enough for The Big Geek, me, and the little geek (the other little geek has no teeth, so he gets nothing good for a while), plus a BUNCH left over for lunch tomorrow.

If you're really, really, REALLY lazy and not concerned with your sodium content, you could probably make one of those rice-a-roni type noodle meals in a garlic/olive oil/Italian flavor and just put the scallops on top of that. Not that I'm suggesting you SHOULD. I'm just saying that if you were desperate you COULD do that, and if you put scallops on top it would look way more impressive.


  1. I got my son to eat 6 pasta noodles covered in pesto which in my book is a win. I used the Barilla pesto which is pretty decent.

  2. I like DeCecco's Pesto alla genovese. I also prefer small scallops to large ones, personally. I will have to try this one. Molly likes shrimp and lobster. haven't tried scallops yet. When do they stop spitting out things they don't like? LOL