This recipe pairs scallops, fresh herbs, and a salsa verde dressing inspired by one of my favorite Mexican chefs, Aarón Sánchez.
It took me a while to cook my first scallops! The first time I did was in a soup, I used the really small bay scallops. I think I would always shy away from them mostly because of the cost. But there are those days when it’s nice to treat yourself to a good home-cooked meal. The salsa verde dressing was inspired by one of my favorite Mexican chefs, Aarón Sánchez. I really love his style of cooking. For this preparation, it’s a fresh herb and chile salsa, not what I grew up knowing as salsa, but much like a chimichurri. A trip to the farmer’s market also influenced this dish because of all the fresh herbs and produce available. Enjoy fresh ingredients whenever possible.
In a small saucepan, add 1/4 cup olive oil and 4 cloves of minced garlic. Heat on low/medium heat until garlic starts to toast and become aromatic. If it starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat. Stir often so it does not burn and cook just until it’s a nice golden color. Drain, reserving the oil, set garlic aside.
In a glass bowl, add the scallops and blot all excess moisture from them to make sure they are nice and dry. Season with salt, pepper, and a little of that reserved garlic-infused oil, just enough to coat. Cover and keep chilled until ready to use.
In a blender or processor combine all of the ingredients for the salsa verde dressing/sauce. Blend on high until very smooth. Taste for salt. Strain through a fine wire-mesh strainer and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. When it’s halfway through the cooking time, heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the reserved garlic oil. When it’s good and hot, cook the scallops, only 8 at a time, so they sear nicely and don’t steam. Cook for just a minute or two on each side or until you get a little browning. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
In that same skillet, add the white wine, lime juice, reserved toasted garlic, salt and pepper. Drain the pasta, reserving just about 1/8 of a cup of the pasta water. Add pasta and water to skillet, stir well to combine. Taste for salt, fold in the cilantro, parsley, and scallops. Drizzle pasta with salsa verde dressing before serving.
The recipe makes enough dressing that you could serve a side salad of fresh greens or tomatoes with the scallops. This dressing is perfect for a variety of dishes.