Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Scallops and Spaghetti

I am always looking for ways to incorporate more seafood into my diet. Not only is it good for you, but it tastes great. The only problem is that it can be very expensive, and in some places not very tasty. Because I live in the city I shop pretty much solely at Trader Joes--even they have a so-so fish showing. Virtually all of it is frozen, and much of the good quality stuff costs more than the steak they have. However, I have found good use for their frozen bay scallops. These are really great to have handy, especially to throw in for a quick saute, or pasta dish, like the one I'll be showing you today.

This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman, who is known for his simplistic recipes that taste great. It is a great quick meal, one that you can make any night (especially those nights when you forgot to take something out of the freezer that morning.) The best part about this recipe is that it has a delightful "creamy" taste, but it requires no cream or cheese (though feel free to add a sprinkle of parmesan). It is good for you, good tasting, and quick. What could be better for dinner on a night when you really don't have the time to cook?

You will need:

1 pound of spaghetti (or linguine)
20-25 bay scallops, thawed (these are the tiny ones; if you have big ones, cut them into quarters)
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1-2 Tbsps of butter
1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp of parsley
1/2 a can of diced tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper to taste

To thaw the scallops quickly, you may want to use a trick that I learned a while back. A metal frying pan conducts the heat from the air more rapidly to the frozen food, so put the scallops in one layer in the pan. After a few minutes, turn them over, and you'll notice that the underside is already thawed. It should only be a few minutes before the other side is all set.

Heat up a pot of water with salt for the spaghetti, and add it once the water boils. Meanwhile, add the olive oil into a medium sauce pan, and put it over medium heat. Once it is warm, add the garlic. Cook it for about three minutes, or until it turns a tan color. Then add your butter in, and mix it around until it melts. Turn up the heat to medium high, and add your tomatoes and scallops. The scallops need to cook for about 3 minutes. You'll know they are done when they turn opaque. Once they are cooked, take the sauce pan off the heat.

This is the trickiest part of this recipe, but it's actually not bad, you just have to be patient. Once the pan is off of the heat, mix in the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and parsley. You want this mixture to be evenly incorporated, and then let it sit, and allow the breadcrumbs to absorb the mixture. You don't want to see any extra oil or liquid in the sauce pan, otherwise it is not ready. If you've waited more than 5 minutes and there is still oil, try to drain it out. You should look for this type of consistency below, and you'll know it's ready.

You will need to warm up the scallop mixture just a bit before adding it to the pasta. Drain the pasta, and reserve a half a cup of pasta water. Put the pasta back in the pan and add the scallop mixture. Then add the pasta water, and stir until the pasta is evenly coated. And you're done! You'll be so surprised that breadcrumbs have made this pasta have such a delicious creamy texture; it is hard to believe.

Now if that wasn't quick, I don't know what is.

Just remember:

1. To thaw the scallops quickly, lay them on a metal frying pan.
2. Wait for the breadcrumbs to soak up the liquid of the scallop mixture before adding it to the pasta.

And there you have it! Another quick meal to add to your weeknight arsenal.

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