PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Monday, May 05, 2008

Deconstructed Pesto

The growing season feels like it's itching to spring itself on us, at NuWo Estates... the lettuce is up, sadly, the radishes were as well, but some rapacious rabbits utterly de-topped them. James sold all his tomato and pepper plants, to boot! I am delivering the last order tonight. He definitely had a successful seedling season, and I'm sure it will only expand next year. I joked that we're going to end up with one of those high towers...he very seriously responded with an interest in putting one up over the raised beds! So, who knows, maybe I'll get my dream realized - home grown tomatoes, year-round!

I had found some frozen bay scallops at Target on sale - and bought several bags. They're the very small scallops, that, when cooked, are about the size of a headphone earbud. Tiny! but good flavor. We also had a large amount of fresh basil, since we'd potted the live plants we'd bought at Price Chopper a month ago. (Note to self: Never run out of fresh basil again!) After pondering my options, I decided to make something up, and that something would be a "Deconstructed Pesto".

I melted some butter, plus olive oil, until it was pretty warm (but not smoking; combining these two fats tempers the heat point and the butter gives a depth of flavor.) I added about 3 tablespoons of minced garlic, and let it sizzle for about five minutes - it didn't brown, but it was enough to mellow the bite. Then, 2# of the scallops, rinsed & drained, about 2/3 cup chiffonade-sliced fresh basil, 1/2 cup chopped pine nuts, some kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper. Heated until the scallops were cooked, added a few splashes of lemon juice (it needed something to cut the butter, as well as perk up the scallops), and served over hot pasta. We were out of Parmesan cheese, so this wasn't a true pesto-based recipe, but the result was actually quite light & went perfectly with a nice cold chardonnay. A few slices of bread to daub up the garlicky bits at the end, and I am pleased to say, it was delicious!

This type of sauce would be equally good with shrimp or chicken. I contemplated adding some sun-dried tomatoes to it, but figured that might result in too much going on, and overwhelm the scallops. If I were doing this with chicken, I would have definitely tried the tomato addition. Artichoke hearts would also be good, and at that point, skip the meat & throw some kalamata olives into the mix for a nice vegetarian dish.

I love when experiments succeed!


posted by PlazaJen, 1:05 PM