04 June 2010

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Pan-Seared Scallops

So, I have this thing about scallops. I don't care for the flavor of the orangey ones ... does anyone else out there in cyberspace feel the same? They have a musky flavor to me. I prefer 'the biggest and whitest' sea scallops I can find. Now, that can be problematic, as scallops are sometimes treated with a phosphate brine to 'preserve' them between boat and dock ... and extreme bleachy whiteness sometimes indicates those preservatives.  You see, scallops don't survive long out of the water, unlike clams and shrimp. So... they are shucked at sea and packed either in brine or on ice (dry-packed). Buying dry-packed will insure no added chemical preservatives. It pays to ask and look at the liquid in the container you're buying them from ... whitish liquid indicates phosphate brine. Okay... enough of that talk.
I got beautiful scallops this week, had a yen for pasta, and had an excess of sweet red peppers in the house. So I experimented with a roasted red pepper and basil cream sauce. The herbs are coming from the garden and so this cream sauce had plenty of basil and parsley.

This was a nice mellow sauce that accented the pepper hot outside and smooth creamy inside of the scallops. It coated beautifully the tagliatelli nests that I boiled. Next time I make it, I may add a tablespoon or two of tomato paste or one or two roma tomatoes to the hand blender mixture. Perhaps you can play with the recipe and make it better ... let me know how it comes out.

Pasta with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - printer friendly

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce


3 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. half&half
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 roasted red peppers, skinned
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1/4 c. basil leaves, rolled and cut into slivers
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
dash cayenne pepper

Making the Sauce:

1. Roast two sweet red peppers under a broiler, turning to blacken the skins. Remove and set them under a bowl for a few minutes to loosen the skins. Peel, place in bowl, and set aside.

2.  Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan and add the flour to make a roux.

3.  Stir in the milk and the half&half and whisk to thicken.

3. As the cream sauce thickens, chop the garlic and add it to the sweet peppers. Use a hand blender to puree the peppers and garlic.

4. Add the pepper puree to the cream sauce and whisk in the salt, pepper, and cayenne. When the sauce bubbles, turn off the heat and cover.

5. Prepare the green herbs and toss them into the sauce. Return the cover and let the greens release their goodness into the sauce.

6. Prepare the pasta and pan-sear the scallops ( I allow 4-5 big scallops per person. ) in a very hot non-stick pan that has been sprayed with olive oil. The scallops need no more than 3 minutes per side in order to keep their creamy smooth consistency ... any more time on the heat and they will become a rubbery overdone. Plan accordingly when cooking the pasta!

7. Drain the cooked pasta. Turn it back into its pan and add a ladle or two of sauce to it. Toss to coat and slide it onto a platter. Lay the scallops on top and place more slivered basil atop, if you wish. 

8. Serve immediately with more sauce on the side.

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