Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Magic Sauce: Scallops with whole wheat pasta and lemon Vinaigrette

I love when I think up a meal that seems fancy and takes almost no time to cook :) I also love finding a sauce that can only be described as magic. Meaning I've used it on multiple things and every time it tastes good, despite the fact that I was the one who cooked it.

I had a sudden impulse to buy scallops at the store the other night, scallops = fancy to me. I got the frozen ones because my shopping impulses tend to sit in the fridge and go bad before we find the impulse to cook them.

We're really into buying frozen seafood right now. You can rarely tell the difference from the fresh stuff and actually, most of the "fresh" stuff at the seafood counter was actually frozen at some point - it even says something like "previously frozen" on the label. That may not be true at say, Whole Foods, but I only take the occasional field trip to go there. Also, frozen seafood thaws super quick! All you have to do is put it in a bowl (or the sink) filled with warmish water - still in its vacuum sealed packaging - and it'll be thaw in like 10 minutes.

A while ago (probably years ago really...) I saw Rachel Ray make scallops that looked amazing. Being the culinary risk taker that I am (ha) I decided to try and recreate them from memory. I actually have a pretty good photographic memory for most things - it conveniently does not work for my car keys most mornings - but I can visualize Rachel's scallops being rolled in a mix of sesame seeds and chopped fresh herbs. We don't keep fresh herbs on hand very often (I keep meaning to plant some but I'm lazy) so I went with dried herbs.

The flavor arsenal:

Italian Herb Garlic Gold, black pepper, toasted sesame oil, Garlic Gold Olive Oil,
Garlic Gold Lemon Vinaigrette, toasted sesame seeds, Bragg seasoning mix
Can you spot the magic sauce in there? Yeah it's this stuff:

Garlic Gold Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. Yum.

The side dish for this meal was whole wheat thin spaghetti, which out of all the whole wheat pastas taste the most like regular pasta to us, doused in this amazing potion of Lemon Vinaigrette.

So back to the scallops. I've learned that with most seafood (and maybe most meat in general?) it's good to pat it dry before you cook it. Supposedly that helps it get than pretty brown crust on it. So the scallops hung out on a paper towel for a bit while I got everything else ready.

I mixed together the sesame seeds, some (a lot) Italian Herb Garlic Gold, and then threw in a few other green herbs for the heck of it. Oregano and basil I think they were.

Rachel made this look much easier but basically I just grabbed a scallop and rolled it in the herb mix until they all look like this:

Then I put a little Garlic Gold Olive Oil in a pan (I promise they did not in anyway pay or coerce me when writing this post...I'm just a little obsessed with their stuff right now!) and then put the scallops in. While they were cooking I also dropped in the pasta.

After a few minutes I checked the scallops and they didn't have that pretty brown crust I was looking for :( but I've heard they're very easy to overcook so I went ahead and flipped them over. I don't think I've ever had overcooked scallops but I hear the texture is like chewing rubber bands. I have made other things that ended up tasting like rubber and was determined not to let that happen tonight.

Once the scallops were done (I was totally guessing on if they were really done...how do you know when scallops are done??) I went ahead and drained the pasta and poured on the magic sauce. Then a little lightbulb went off and I remembered the one thing that would make this meal even better:


Not just any cheese, fresh, fancy, asiago cheese mom got us. A little bit of that shredded on top of the pasta:

The Verdict: Easily the best meal I've ever cooked in under 20 minutes. Seriously, this took like no time! And it looks fancy right?

Also, that "magic sauce" is really awesome on top of grilled tuna. We've done that a few times the past few weeks, just put it on a bed of lettuce and you've got yourself a meal!

Do you have a favorite sauce or seasoning that tastes good on almost anything?


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