How about skipping the restaurants and making this Valentine’s Day extra cozy with a dinner date at home?
Mr. Pedantic and I often opt for a dual celebration. I make him an elegant dinner with all the comforts and charms of our very own dining room, and he treats me to a sumptuous evening out later on in the week. Being that I am a great proponent of prolonging any kind of celebration, I love this compromise.
For a romantic night in, I love cooking something extra special that does not result in an overwhelming number of dishes. The prep time in advance can be reasonably long, but once the meal is over, I would rather enjoy a cup of tea and a blithe vinyl than stand over the sink for another hour.
This dish, featuring my greatest love in the edible world - scallops - meets my date night demands.
Though there are a few steps involved, the resulting dishes are minimal. This is one of those recipes that I would serve with a simple green salad and a toasted baguette and call it a day. I also like to make a dessert that can be prepared a day or two in advance for occasions such as this. Look no farther than this quadruple almond ice cream.
It is important that you find the very best scallops you can get your hands on. The aroma should be ever-so-faintly fishy, and the flesh firm.
My favorite way to enjoy scallops is the simplest, seared in butter, and that is just what I did here. To further carry the subtle notes of the sea, I then cooked a few handfuls of mushrooms and several cloves of garlic in the same butter; this gives the dish a cohesive foundational flavor.
After the mushrooms have been browned, white wine, additional butter (surprise, surprise!), and a squeeze of lemon is added to brighten and lift the flavors.
After the wine has reduced a bit, we add the pasta straight from the boiling water, so that it can finish cooking in the lovely mushroom sauce we have built.
The scallops return to the scene, along with plentiful parsley and pine nuts. Just the tiniest bit of parmesan adds a touch of creaminess to the dish.
Now all that remains is to light the candles!
Linguine with Parsley, Mushrooms, Pine Nuts & Scallops
1/2 lb linguine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided use
3/4 lb large sea scallops
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6 ounces mushrooms, stems discarded and caps sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup dry, white wine
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
parmesan reggiano, finely grated
Fill a 4-quart saucepan 3/4 of the way full of water and salt liberally. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente.
In the meantime, place 4 tablespoons of butter in the center of a large skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and is sizzling, place the scallops in the pan and sprinkle with sea salt. Sear the scallops, until browned, then flip and sear on the opposite side. This process should take roughly 6-8 minutes.
Transfer the scallops to a plate and set aside for now.
Place the sliced mushrooms and garlic in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are evenly browned. Pour in white wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes; until the wine has reduced by two-thirds.
Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and lemon juice and reduce heat to low.
Use a long set of tongs to lift the cooked pasta out of the water and into the pan with the mushroom mixture. Toss the pasta to coat in the sauce, then remove from heat.
Return the scallops to the pan and top with parsley, pine nuts, and a light layer of grated parmesan.