Homage to Spring: Pasta Primavera With Scallops

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

As I sat with my morning coffee yesterday morning, I clicked on the local news to see what the day would bring. The weather report forecasted “abundant sunshine”. How about that? It didn’t say “sunny” or “partly sunny”, or even “very sunny”. Nope. The reporter’s exact words were “abundant sunshine”. What beautiful words to hear at 6:15 a.m., on a dark, chilly March morning. What a wonderful promise of a wonderful day! It made me smile.
It also made me realize that Spring has apparently sprung, at least in my neck of the woods. Being on the tail end of the Easter season, we’ve all been hearing and talking a lot about renewal and rebirth. I’ve been spending so much time these past few weeks baking for Easter and posting about it, that I never had time to properly welcome Spring.

Later, as I was stopped at a red light while driving to my office, I took a good look around. I was surprised at what I saw. Almost overnight, an explosion of new growth had occurred. There was a profusion of pink, gold and violet surrounding me. Sure, living in Florida means that something is always blooming, but this was much more pronounced. The fuschias of the bougainvillea, the peaches and yellows of the hibiscus and the lavenders of the jacaranda seemed so much more vibrant than the day before. The sky was bluer and the sunlight was…..well, it was abundant! It was like all of nature woke up after a long, restorative nap.

I knew that whatever I created in my kitchen that evening had to reflect this seasonal shift. Truth be told, I’m still a little amped out on baking, so I decided to put together a savory dish that sings Spring. I made Pasta Primavera.

Pasta primavera is an Italian dish that consists of pasta and and assortment of fresh seasonal vegetables. The word primavera, in fact, means Spring in Italian. Any vegetables can be used in this dish, but I like it best with a variety having an array of bright colors and textures. I julienned most of them to facilitate quicker cooking, and because I think they’re pretty that way. You can certainly just slice them up any way you like.

The sauce can be either olive oil or butter and cream based. This time, I combined both to make a light cream sauce with white wine, broth and half and half. Though the dish usually involves tomatoes in some way, I left them out because I couldn’t find any that were worthy. This is all about the freshest, loveliest ingredients, isn’t it?

Since this was to be a one dish dinner, I also added some gorgeous, plump sea scallops to it. I have also prepared this recipe using shrimp and chicken, but yesterday, the scallops won the draw.

I have laid out the recipe here so that, with the exception of cooking the pasta, the dish can all be made in one pot. I’m sure that whoever does the dishes at your house will be happy to hear that!
So here you have it – Pasta Primavera With Scallops – my homage to Spring!

Pasta Primavera with Scallops
1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used linguini.)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 stick of butter
1 large sweet onion, very thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cups fresh asparagus tips
2 cups fresh shucked English peas or frozen green peas
2 medium zucchini, julienned
2 medium yellow squash, julienned
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used the regular button variety.)
1 lb dry packed sea scallops, sliced in half horizontally
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock (Canned broth is just fine.)
2 cups half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
Fresh herbs of your choice for garnish
Fill a large stock pot with water and bring to a boil. When boiling, add asparagus and fresh peas, if using, and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Fish out the vegetables and “shock” in a bowl of ice water. Drain and set aside. Then, cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and toss with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking and clumping. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove to a large lowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil and butter to the skillet if needed and add the carrots and red pepper. Saute about 5 minutes until tender. Add the zucchini, squash, mushrooms, peas and asparagus, and saute about 2-3 minutes more. Remove and add to the bowl with the onions.
Turn the heat to medium-high, add a little more oil and butter and add the scallops, in a single layer. Saute until lightly carmelized, about 1 minute per side, depending on the thickness of the scallops. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Add wine and broth to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits. Reduce heat to medium and keep to a low boil until liquid is reduced by about 1/2. Add half and half, salt, pepper and nutmeg, stir and continue to simmer a few minutes until cream begins to thicken.

Add vegetables and scallops back to the skillet and heat through. Toss with pasta and top with lemon zest and herbs.


If you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:

Spaghetti With Asparagus and Shrimp from Kalofagas

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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