Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pan Seared Scallops with Pesto Cream

With my herb garden hiding under a layer of snow, I'm forced to buy fresh herbs at the grocery store. My biggest objection (aside from the cost) is that you can't simply pick what you need. Instead you are stuck purchasing a whole package. My usual solution is to chop and freeze the leftover herbs, but sometimes I get more creative when I have extra basil and make pesto.

Pesto can be used in so many different ways. The last batch I made was perfect for an easy pasta dinner the first night. A few days later it was a tasty spread for grilled chicken sandwiches. But my favorite use of it was in a cream sauce for some local scallops that the Kitchen Genius made.

Paired with mashed cauliflower, these scallops make an elegant, but oh so easy meal. Best of all, this dinner only takes about 15 to 20 minutes to make.

Pan Seared Scallops with Pesto Cream
Serves 2

1 pound sea scallops
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 package baby spinach
1/2 cup light cream
3 tablespoons walnut basil pesto
salt and pepper to taste

Pat scallops dry with paper towel. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil. In small batches making sure they don’t touch in the pan, sear scallops 2 to 3 minutes per side until brown, but still medium rare inside. Use tongs to flip them. Place seared scallops on a plate and continue until all scallops are seared.

When all the scallops are seared, add another drizzle of olive oil to the pan and add spinach, tossing until wilted. Turn buner down to low and add cream and pesto to pan. When warm, taste before adding salt and pepper. Put scallops back in pan and simmer for five minutes or until cooked through. Do not overcook.

Walnut Basil Pesto

1 package of fresh basil leaves (about 25)
1/2 walnuts, toasted in oven and cooled
1 large garlic clove
1/2 fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put basil, walnuts, and garlic clove in food processor and process until chopped finely. Add parmesan cheese and pulse until just blended. Drizzle olive oil through the tube of the food processor, a little at a time until the pesto is the consistency of a loose paste. (You may need slightly more or less than 1/4 cup.)


Lo said...

Love scallops. But, the more I think about it, the more I'm really excited about the idea of the cauliflower with that pesto. Bet that would make a great side dish... or gratin. Amazing what a little bit of pesto can do!

vanillasugarblog said...

I LOVE adding walnut to pesto, what a flavor it brings.
How many days till spring?
How are the chickens? A neighbor, down the road has chickens that are free roaming during the day and they are those giant black chickens with all the crazy feather and colors. I need to snap photos and post them. They are gorgeous chickens.

Ed Schenk said...

Looks great! I like the use of walnuts instead of pine nuts in the Pesto

noble pig said...

Pesto cream...oh I am all about it!

Laurie said...

Of course I dragged forkfuls of the mashed cauliflower through the pesto and it WAS great.

I started using walnuts because they are cheaper, but I actually like them better than pine nuts in pesto.

Dawn, post a photo of those chickens, ASAP! I have two black chickens and they are majestic. My white one looks like she needs a bath in this yucky weather. Pretty muddy and bedraggled.

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

This brings a bit of summer to your plate:D

Anonymous said...

What a sophisticated week day dinner! Great idea to make a cream sauce with the pesto - I never used to like pesto, now I love it!

Happy Friday!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Oh what lovely scallops! I had an amazing canape years ago that was a cauliflower puree topped with a seared scallop and a little blood orange vinaigrette. I still remember how divine the scallop and cauli combination is.

The Teacher Cooks said...

This looks delish! I love scallops and with spinach and the pesto what else could you ask for.

Dawn (KitchenTravels) said...

Hi Laurie - popping by to say hello after finding you via a comment on my blog. Your site is so pretty; love the design. And the recipes look delicious! It's 9:00 a.m. and now I'm craving scallops. ;)

Ruth Daniels said...

What a perfectly, heavenly looking dish. And it stars three of my favorites - scallops, cauliflower and pesto. Thanks for sharing.