photo by @what_she_ate
Do you ever stuff a bag of scallops in the freezer and completely forget about them? No? Oh...well, that's exactly what I did. However, thanks to the power of temperatures below 32°F, the mollusks that I had ignored for weeks were A-OK when I uncovered them in a frantic scouring of my freezer. Since spring is currently in full force, it only felt right to throw these scallops atop a green, spring-centric pasta dish. I had asparagus, leeks, and a bag of frozen peas, but you could use whatever you have on hand.
Given that this rigatoni dinner was a throw-together kind of moment, I was looking for anything and everything in my fridge that I could potentially use. I am fully aware that there's an old Italian rule claiming that you should never cook seafood and cheese together, but I am a firm believer that a little Parmesan makes everything just a little better. Why would I listen to some outdated saying when I know that scallops + pasta + Parm = yum yum YUM?! I might be forgetful, but I'm not stupid!
- 8 to 10 large scallops, (about 1 pound)
- 1 pound rigatoni, or pasta shape of your choosing
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large leeks, sliced (white parts only)
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and coarsely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1/ 2 cup Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for serving
- 1 (12 ounce) bag frozen peas, thawed
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
On a paper-towel lined plate, generously salt scallops and let sit uncovered in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. Pat dry with another paper towel.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta to al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of pasta water.
Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Sweat leeks until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add asparagus and cover. Cook until it retains a slight crunch, about 8 minutes. Add garlic cloves and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer pasta to asparagus mixture and toss with 2 tablespoons butter and Parmesan. Gradually add enough pasta water until a silky sauce forms (you may not need the entire cup). Add peas, lemon juice and zest, and stir. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep warm by covering it over very low heat.
In a medium skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Using tongs, cook scallops until golden brown and seared, about 3 minutes per side. Top pasta with scallops, fresh parsley, and Parmesan. Serve immediately.