- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When we discovered that a good friend we had not seen for a while was in town, we immediately invited her for dinner. It turned out that the only time we could get together was on a weeknight, and when I looked at my calendar for that particular day I could not believe how frenetic my schedule was.

I calculated that I would have about an hour to prep and cook this meal. Still, I wanted the menu to be special since our guest was from New Orleans and crazy about food.

A recipe I found sounded ideal for my circumstances. It was for fettuccine, tossed while piping hot with butter, lemon, and creme fraiche.

I decided to add grated Par migiano Reggiano and fresh dill to the cooked pasta and to garnish each serving with a few sauteed scallops. A salad of baby spinach and thinly sliced fennel dressed in red wine vinaigrette and warm, crusty bread completed the main course. Clementines and cookies made a fine finale.

This pasta entree took less than half an hour from start to finish. I used fresh fettuccine, which cooks in less than 5 minutes. Grating the cheese, zesting the lemon and chopping the dill required about 10 minutes, and the fish needed about 6 minutes of sauteing. Dust the mounds of golden fettuccine with dill and Parmesan, then top with three scallops.

Fettuccine with lemon, Parmesan and scallops

Makes 4 servings.

FETTUCCINE:

1 pound fettuccine

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grated lemon zest

1 cup creme fraiche at room temperature (see note)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, divided

1/4 cup fresh chopped dill, divided

SCALLOPS:

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil plus more if needed

12 extra large sea scallops (about 18 to 20 ounces total), side muscles removed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add pasta and 2 tablespoons salt. Cook until pasta is al dente or just tender, according to package directions. (Count on 3 to 5 minutes for fresh pasta and closer to 12 for dried.) Drain pasta well and return to the pot in which it was cooked.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir in the lemon zest. Pour over the pasta in the pot and toss to mix well. Add the creme fraiche, half of the Parmesan, and half of the dill and toss well to combine. Taste and season pasta with more salt as needed. Put lid on pot and set aside. (See note.)

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons or enough oil to lightly cover the bottom of a large, heavy skillet that will hold the scallops easily in a single layer. Set pan over medium high heat, and when oil is very hot, add scallops to pan.

Cook until golden on both sides, 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove scallops to a dinner plate, drizzle with lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.

To serve, mound some pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls. Top each serving with 3 scallops, and sprinkle with some of the remaining dill and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Note: If you want to make your creme fraiche, the following recipe works well.

HOMEMADE CREME FRAICHE:

1 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup sour cream

Whisk cream and sour cream together in a medium non-reactive bowl. Let stand at room temperature until thickened, for 6 hours or longer. Cover and refrigerate. (Creme fraiche can be stored up to 1 week, covered, in refrigerator.) Makes about 1 1/3 cups.

Note: If the pasta seems to have cooled down, even with the lid on, place the pan over very low heat, and stir and cook to warm through, 1 to 2 minutes

TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES

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