Sea Scallop Pasta With Spinach And Pistachio Pesto

Pesto is one of the best things to have on hand for delicious meals in a pinch. When I make pesto I like to make a large batch and freeze it for later.  Another thing I love about pesto is how versatile it is, it’s so easy to exchange ingredients for different varieties and flavors, for example I have used walnuts or pecans in place of the classic pine nut. I have also experimented with the basil, trading it out for parsley, kale, green peas and even nettles (which was delicious).  For this recipe I used spinach and tarragon for the greens and pistachios for the nuts.

When making pesto its easiest to use a food processor, though you can manually chop all the ingredients if you don’t have one. I basically just throw all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in the food processor and pulse till fully combined and until it's the consistency I want, (I like it with some texture, not completely smooth) then I add in the olive oil at the end and mix it slowly. Sometimes if you over mix olive oil it can taste bitter that’s why I mix it at the end.

A few tips for cooking scallops: I used small bay scallops because that’s what was good at my grocery store. These tips also apply for cooking larger diver scallops as well (maybe ever better). Make sure you clean and dry them really well, a dry scallop is critical for searing an browning, all the excess liquid will end up only steaming and you won’t get any color. Salt and pepper them lightly and make sure you pan is hot!! If your pan is not hot enough they will stick bad! Don’t over crowd your pan, they need room for the steam to dissipate or again, you won’t develop color. Scallops cook really quickly and because they are so small they carryover cook after you remove them from the pan so only cook them for no longer than 3 min. on each side depending on the size. For my small scallops I only cooked them about a min on each side.

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Spinach Pistachio Pesto

  •       2 Cups Packed Spinach
  •        ½ Cup Tarragon Leaves
  •       3 Cloves Garlic
  •       ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese
  •       1 Cup Roasted (unsalted) Pistachios
  •       ½ Olive Oil
  •       ½ teaspoon Lemon Zest
  •       1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  •       Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor add all ingredients except for the oil, pulse till combined and the texture you like. Add the oil and pulse to combine. Store in an air tight container in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

Scallop Pesto Pasta

  •       1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  •       ½ Cup Pesto
  •       ½ Cup Cream
  •       1lb Scallops
  •       1 Package Pasta (about 12 oz dried)
  •       ¼ Cup Reserved Pasta Water
  •       Salt and Pepper To Taste

Cook Pasta as directed on package with plenty of salt in the water. Heat cast Iron pan (heavy bottomed pan) to medium/high heat, add a little oil and gently layer in washed and dried scallops. Cooking in 2 to 3 additions, sear the scallops for about 1-3 min (depending on size) gently turn and cook another 1-2 min. remove to a plate and cook the rest of your scallops. In the same pan add in the cream and stir to remove and dissolve the bits from the pan. Add in the pesto and pix till sauce comes together, add in the cooked pasta and toss in the sauce. Add a little pasta water to loosen in needed. Top with cooked scallops and micro greens. Serve immediately. Make about 5-7 servings.

 

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