Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Winter Citrus: Meyer Lemon Pasta with Seared Scallops

A craving hit about 4pm. There was no way around it. I needed Meyer lemons, and nothing else would do. They'd be perfect in Amanda Hesser's recipe for creamy lemon pasta with arugula. Imagine my delight when the first display in Whole Foods was a basket full of lemons and a big sign—Meyer lemons on sale! I happily snagged two...or so I thought.

In the grocery store, I often give myself permission to alter recipes beyond recognition. Creme fraiche is three dollars and packed with fat—no problem, I'll use Fage yogurt! Real parmesan and arugula beyond my budget? (And I often feel like cooked arugula is a touch too bitter.) No worries, we have other hard cheese and vegetables at home. This continues until I have pretty much nothing a recipe calls for, except those precious Meyer lemons.

People who don't live in New York may not have to wait in line 20 minutes to buy groceries. But that is not a rare occurence here, and I guess I'm getting used to it. The line at Trader Joe's snakes around the entire store, and Whole Foods is a madhouse at prime hours. We have tiny refrigerators. We shop daily. So we wait in line with everyone else. When I finally reached the checkout counter, there was no turning back.

To my dismay, it turned out some of the lemons nested in that display, despite any signage to the contrary, were NOT Meyer lemons at all. I was heartbroken. I should have looked closer when I grabbed them. But with one tiny Meyer lemon, and one boring Eureka lemon, I had to soldier onward.

What I'm saying is this: this slightly disappointing meal was not Amanda Hesser's fault. You should probably try her recipe, not mine. And you should check your lemons carefully before you wait in line.

The sauce wasn't quite creamy or lemony enough. The peas and scallops didn't really integrate together, and though each element was nice enough, it just didn't cohere. But there is potential in this one, it's worth trying another variation. A little salty proscuitto would certainly help. Or follow the recipe exactly for once.

Meyer Lemon Pasta with Seared Scallops
Adapted from Amanda Hesser

1 pound angel hair pasta
4 scallops per person
1/2 cup grated hard cheese + additional for serving
2 Meyer Lemons (I only had one, but you really should use 2)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed according to package directions.
3 slices proscuitto, in 1 inch pieces (recommended)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (or creme fraiche)
salt and pepper to taste

Zest the lemons and juice one of them. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta and prepare pasta (al dente) according to package directions. Remove small side muscle from scallops and discard. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat with a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper scallops. Sear scallops to desired doneness (about 2 minutes per side, depending how hot your pan is.) Remove scallops and toss proscuitto strips briefly in hot pan. When pasta is cooked, reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Return pasta to cooking pot, add back in pasta water, yogurt, and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, zest, proscuitto strips, cheese, and peas, stirring and tossing to distribute sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with scallops on top.


AnticiPlate said...

Yum! Mmmmm to the Mmm Mmm Mmm.

pigpigscorner said...

This sounds wonderful with lemon and yougurt. Yummy!

Nina Timm said...

My eye always catches a scallop recipe, because we do not find them often here in South Africa...I have only seen frozen! I love the lemon pasta idea too!

maggie said...

Oh, Nina, that's too bad. I wouldn't eat frozen ones, though.

Lisa said...

I would have never thought to put scallops with this pasta but that really sounds delicious.

I like doing Amanda Hesser's other version of this pasta with arugula. I also add extra lemon: http://adinnerparty.blogspot.com/2008/07/dinner-for-two.html

carollee03 said...

Another thought might be to use broccoli rabe instead of arugula - pleasantly bitter but not over the top in the way that arugula can be (totally agreed there). This is similar to a yummy Ina Garten recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-fusilli-with-arugula-recipe/index.html.

Love your blog!

Heather said...

Aawww! I hate making those kinds of mistakes! But as the adage goes, when life gives you (boring old Eureka) lemons...

My lemon pasta was tasty without the bottarga, and I bet the scallops really set this off nicely.

Lo said...

Srsly. I was just thinking it was time for some lemony pasta... and now there are recipes everywhere.

Bummer about the lemons, but this recipe really does look like it has potential. I like the flavor combo.

Olga said...

Those scallops looked divine: perfectly cooked.

I often alter what I was originally planning ot make according to what I see at the store too: that's a great thing about cooking vs baking.

lisa said...

It sounds fantastic, and your scallops look amazing! Pasta, scallops, lemon, I would be very happy with this.

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Oh, wow! This looks heavenly! I'm a sucker for a good scallop/pasta recipe.

gaga said...

I've never made pasta with lemon before. I'm definitely trying this since I have a big old lemon tree in my yard that I never know what to do with!

Rebecca said...

oh, Maggie, you're a woman after my own heart! I think meyer lemons are on my list of top ten favorite things. when I loved in cali we had a neighbor who grew them and sold them by the bagful for 50 cents! I finally found some in our local market last week and was overjoyed--I even danced in the aisle!

kelsie and mel said...

saw your photo of this on foodphotoblog and started salivating immediately. that recipe is everything i love...beautifully seared scallops btw.

Gloria said...

Found this on FoodPhotoBlog and couldn't resist getting the recipe. I'll eat anything with lemons and I love scallops. A keeper for sure. Thanks.

Jeremy said...

That's my kind of meal when I am alone. That and a glass of wine and a chick movie! Looks perfect!