Tuesday, August 11, 2009

It's been one of those days

Do you ever have a day where there just doesn't seem to be enough time to get through all you need to do? I know, we all have them. If only dinner time didn't always have to come at dinner time...but it does, so now I'm having to think of something quick and easy to prepare AND I don't want to have a lot of clean-up. So I'm thinking a quick pasta dish. Everyone likes pasta, right? And it's so easy to add something tasty for the "grown-ups" to enjoy; as for the little ones, well if you have them you know they enjoy just a bowl of pasta with some butter and cheese on it. I don't think my son ate sauce on his pasta until he was a about 10 and started making his "special" pasta - some previously cooked penne, fried in oil and butter, with sliced green onions and halved cherry tomatoes. Plain, but good. And he could do it himself! It was his invention and he took great pride in telling chefs we met all about his "special pasta." I remember at a Gourmet Weekend, the one and only they held in Napa at Copia, when he and Rocco Dispirito got into a deep pasta discussion. Rocco made him feel very special and really truly was interested (or appeared interested) in what Trevor had to say.

So tonight I will make a simple, elegant pasta dish. This whole thing should take less than 30 minutes. It calls for scallops, but if you don't like them, you could use shrimp. If you don't like shrimp...well, then what's the matter with you? OK...I have some friends who don't like anything that swims, so for them, try chicken...chicken...

This dish will work well with either a Chardonnay (not a big oaky butter bomb unless that's what you like, LindySez will always tell you to drink what you like, but if you want to taste the wine rather than kiss a barrel, try one that is not overly oaked) or a Sauvignon Blanc. Whichever one you choose, use that one in the recipe.

Lemon Fettuccine with Sauteed Scallops

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (try to always use fresh pepper, it really does make a difference because the oils are fresh)
1 pound large sea scallops
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot minced
1/2 cup white wine (whichever you are drinking, or if you are not drinking wine, whatever you have in the refrigerator left-over from that last time you didn't finish that bottle)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (peel)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (zest the lemon and then juice it)
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 ounces fettuccine - cooked according to package directions - 1/2 cup pasta water reserved
1/3 cup chopped parsley - flat-leaf preferred

When you look at a scallop, it usually has a little muscle where it attached itself to the shell, you can feel it as it's hard, remove that. Then cut it in half horizontally to make two disks. Rinse under cold water to remove any grit or sand, and pat dry with paper towels. In a large zip-top bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper, then add the scallops and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. Discard the unused flour.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; add the scallops and sear on each side until lightly browned - do not, I repeat, do not overcook or you will have a rubber disk and not a tender piece of lovely seared scallop (I swear this is why so many people say they don't like scallop is that is is notoriously overcooked); better too rare, than overcooked. Remove the scallops from the pan, wipe it clean and then melt the butter over medium heat; add the shallot; saute 1 minute; add the wine, lemon peel and lemon juice; saute for one minute. Add the pasta; toss and heat through, then remove from the heat and add the parsley. Toss to coat; adding some pasta water if it all seems a bit dry. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Divide the pasta between 4 plates and top with the scallops, pouring any juices let on the plate over the top.

Serve this with a simple green salad with a white wine or white balsamic vinaigrette.

Put your salad ingredients in a large bowl, I like lettuce (duh); fresh tomato, some cucumber, green onions; then make a vinaigrette by combining:

2 tablespoons white wine or white balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh mix herbs (you can use parsley, tarragon, thyme, oregano, alone or in a combination)
1 tablespoon water (see by cutting down on the oil, and adding the water, you don't have to do as much exercise tomorrow)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely minced or put through a garlic press
Salt and pepper, to taste
Just a mere pinch of sugar

Whisk well in a bowl. Pour "sparingly" over the greens and toss to combine (do not drown the salad in dressing, let the lettuce and vegetables live)

Per Serving (as a meal and with a glass of wine) 586 Calories; 6g Fat (trace Sat, 2g Mon, 1g Poly); 37g Carbohydrates; 11g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 512mg Sodium

LindySez: If you are making this with shrimp or chicken, you can bypass the flouring. And even with scallops, if you prefer not to flour, you don't have too. Just make sure everything is patted dry so it gets a little color when you saute it and doesn't just "simmer' in it's own juice. Shrimp should be pink and chicken needs to be cooked all the way though, best to use boneless skinless breast meat and look for white throughout.

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