Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Campanelle with Garlic Scape Pesto and Smoked Scallops

One hour and fifteen minutes. That's the elapsed time between the eating and the blogging of this dish. It's really so good, and made even more so by its fortuitousness. This started out as a kitchen-sink dinner, although that term is a little disrespectful because I had so many gorgeous ingredients just hanging around the house today. First, we had the garlic scapes, which are the unopened flower and stem of an immature hardneck garlic plant. I've tried putting them in salads and sauteeing them with other veggies, and they're okay, but my favorite thing to do with them is make pesto. So I did just that.

There were some house-smoked scallops I got from Metro Seafood in Clinton on Sunday, as well as the glorious bounty of today's CSA share, not to mention the goodies we have in our own garden. My pasta dish came together in one of those beautiful hallelujah sequences in which the one inspirational shaft of sunlight shone through the kitchen window onto my hand as I chose each ingredient.

On the side I served some warm chickpeas with lemon juice, good green olive oil, summer savory, and crumbled pepper-crusted chevre from Cranberry Creek, a newly discovered farmstead creamery in the Poconos that has been knocking our socks off. (We're so lucky they make deliveries to Genesis!)

To be honest, it was probably a little uncomfortable to witness my smugness as we tucked into this meal. Local scapes and basil in the pesto, sugar snap peas and herbs from our own garden, really good cheese. Is the artisanal seafood over the top? I don't care. Even our beverage was soda water with my favorite homemade lime-mint syrup. This recipe is so of-the-moment that by the time you read this the scapes and sugar snap peas may be gone until next year, but please bookmark this. It is so, so good.

Campanelle with Garlic Scape Pesto and Smoked Scallops

2/3 pound short pasta, like campanelle
1/3 pound sugar snap peas, cut into 1-inch lengths
½ cup garlic scape pesto (recipe follows)
¼ pound smoked scallops, thinly sliced

Prepare pesto, then put the pasta water on to boil. Add a couple tablespoons of salt before putting the pasta in the pot. Cook according to package instructions, then drain, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water. Return pasta to pot and add pesto, mixing until blended. Add pasta water a tablespoon at a time until the sauce is smooth but not watery. Toss in snap peas and spoon into bowls. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top each serving with slices of scallop—the equivalent of about 2 scallops per person.

Serves 4

Garlic Scape and Walnut Pesto
10 garlic scapes, finely chopped
10 basil leaves, or however much you'd like
1/3 to 1/2 cup finely grated parmesan (to taste and texture)
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted
About 1/2 cup olive oil

Put the scapes, basil, 1/3 cup of the cheese, walnuts, and half the olive oil in the bowl of a food processor (or use a blender or a mortar and pestle). Whir to chop and blend all the ingredients and then add the remainder of the oil and, if you want, more cheese. If you like the texture, stop; if you'd like it a little thinner, add some more oil. Season with salt.

If you’re not going to use the pesto immediately, press a piece of plastic against the surface to keep it from oxidizing.The pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days or packed airtight and frozen for a couple of months.

Makes about 1 cup
Gotta give credit to Dorie Greenspan. This pesto is a variation on hers.

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