One of the things I love best about summer is the produce. Curly sous & I have gone berry picking at a local farm. My husband hits the local farmer’s market many Saturday mornings, and this morning he brought back some beautiful sea scallops. Fresh basil, ripe tomatoes, and grilled corn cut through the richness of the Alfredo sauce to make a brighter and less heavy dish.
You will need:
1 lb sea scallops
1 onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, minced with a little salt & olive oil.
2 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped (about 3.5 cups)
2 ears of fresh corn
1/4 of chiffonade basil
10 ounces of squid ink linguini (or pasta of your choice)
1 cup heavy cream
4 TBSP butter
3-4 TBSP flour
1 cup shredded parmesan
lemon pepper seasoning OR lemon zest (opt.)
red pepper flakes (opt.)
salt & pepper
Start by putting a pot of salted water on to come up to a boil. Then preheat your grill all the way turned up. If you don’t have a grill, you can do this under a broiler. Shuck your corn while you wait for that grill to get hot, then toss the corn on the grill, turning occasionally, to get even cooking, browning & maybe even a little bit of charring. If you’re lucky like me, you might get your partner to do it, while you’re chopping your vegetables. Once the corn is finished, set it to the side to cool.
This is a dish that comes together quickly, so you’ll definitely want to chop all of your vegetables ahead. Lightly salt your chopped tomatoes. Once the corn is cool, cut it from the ears. If you haven’t done this before, hold the corn vertically by the tip, then cut along the cob down to your cutting board. You won’t get perfect pieces of corn, but that’s okay.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt your butter on medium-high heat. Once the butter is hot, add the onion, sautéing until it’s translucent. Add the garlic, cooking briefly, as well as a little salt and pepper. (Go light on the salt, since the cheese will add a fair bit of saltiness as well.) If you’d like to make this a bit spicy, add some red pepper flakes here as well. Probably a half teaspoon or more, depending on how spicy you like things. Sprinkle 2-3 TBSP of flour, then whisk vigorously. You may want to go lighter on the flour to start, to avoid clumps. If you want, you can remove the onions first. I just tap them out of the whisk when they clump up, then go back to whisking. Cook your butter & flour together until it thickens and becomes a pale golden color. Then turn the temperature down to medium-low and pour in your heavy cream, whisking constantly, until you have a smooth sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick, add additional heavy cream or milk. Then add the parmesan cheese, again, whisking until smooth. You’re aiming for a fairly thick sauce, since the tomatoes will thin it out again. As a note, while I have made “lighter” Alfredo sauces, I very specifically chose heavy cream for this one, because the higher fat content makes cream more resistant to curdling from acids (such as the tomatoes). Once the sauce comes together, stir in the corn, then turn the heat down as low as possible. Keep stirring the sauce occasionally to keep it from burning.
Now, we turn to the scallops and pasta.
Depending on the cooking time of your pasta, you’ll want to adjust when you start cooking it. Heat a neutral flavored cooking oil with a high smoke point in a frying pan. Lightly season the scallops with lemon zest, salt & pepper, or lemon pepper seasoning. Then sear your scallops on top and bottom, working in batches. I did three batches, starting with the largest scallops, and working to the smallest. Once your scallops are seared on both sides and feel close to done, add them to the Alfredo sauce. (If your scallops are slightly undercooked, they’ll finish cooking in the warm sauce.) I started cooking my linguini at the same time as my last batch of scallops went into the pan, since it only took three minutes to cook to al dente. This is also when you’ll want to add your tomatoes. You want your tomatoes to just be warmed through, but still retain their raw flavor.
Toss your cooked pasta in with the sauce, scallops, and vegetables, along with about 2/3rd of your basil. Garnish your plates with a sprinkling of the remaining basil and additional parmesan. Enjoy with a crisp white wine.