One of the great joys of summer is having an almost endless supply of fresh basil coming from my garden. There is just something so magical about basil, that aroma that just lingers with you……sigh Years ago I worked at restaurant that was adjacent to a farm in Buena, and much to my surprise I knew the farmer and the his sons from many years coaching and officiating wrestling. Back in those days, wrestling was a big part of my life, and we had a strong community of coaches and wrestlers in the area.
We were competitors on the mat, but friends and family off the mat. It wasn’t unusual for any coach to fill in for a coach who was busy on another mat, we took care of each other because it was the right thing to do.
As it happened one of those boys I had watched grow up through the program in Buena, was now helping to run the family farm, and he saw me from the field, pretty much the same as I had been during my coaching years, and brought the tractor over to say hello. After catching up with life in general, he asked about the restaurant and as we talked, somehow basil came up in the conversation. The next day on my doorstep I found a bushel basket overfilled with fresh basil, and I spent the next few minutes just inhaling that incredible aroma.
Needless to say, I made a good deal of pesto that day, and our specials reflected the bounty of pesto and fresh basil that had been left by a friend.
Over the years I have used pesto many different ways in a variety of sauces. But I think my favorite use of fresh pesto is to simply toss it with pasta, sprinkle a little grated Romano on it and enjoy the flavors in their purest form. Now that speaks of summer to me, whether I’m picking my own basil, or remembering the days when I got it by the bushel basket……. Fresh basil means summer to me and always will.
The great thing about a simple flavorful pesto is that it goes so well with just about everything, and since it is summer and the scallop boats have been bringing in gorgeous fresh scallops off the Jersey coast, I thought it would be the perfect combination to share with you. To make a new summer memory that we could share, because we are friends, and we are family.
- 2 bunches of Basil
- ½ bunch of Italian Parsley (depending upon the size of the bunch you may need a full bunch, or if you want the flavors a little milder)
- ¼ cup (22 gm) of grated Romano Cheese
- ¼ cup (40 gm) toasted pine nuts or walnuts
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- ¼ cup (60 ml) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 lb fresh sea scallops
- 1 tsp (5 gm) old bay seasoning
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
- 1 pound (453 gm) linguine
- Remove the leaves from the basil and parsley, do not use the stems
- To toast your pine nuts get a pan sauté pan very hot , then turn off the heat, and add your pine nuts. Keep the pine nuts moving around so they toast without burning.
- Place them into your food processor, Pulse it until its minced very well.
- Now add your garlic, toasted pine nuts, and grated Romano Cheese, pulse to combine
- Drizzle in the Olive Oil until it has a nice smooth consistency without looking oily
- and Voila you got pesto!!
- cook linguine per instructions on the box
- wash and clean your scallops (remove the little piece of side mussel)
- pat dry the scallops with paper towels
- sprinkle the old bay on both sides of the scallops
- get your pan very hot
- add enough olive oil to have a light coating in the pan
- add the scallops carefully, not over crowding the pan (too many scallops will bring down the temperature of the pan)
- most importantly once you place the scallops in the pan, do not move them!
- allow the scallop to sear on one side for two minutes, when you turn one scallop you should begin to see a nice caramel color as a light crust forms. If your scallop looks like this continue turning them, if not let them cook a little longer.
- after turning the scallop continue cooking, being careful not to over cook them.
- a scallop will be just a little translucent in the center when it is done (the scallop will continue to cook after you've removed it from the pan)
- look at the scallop from the side to determine if it is done.
- the scallop should be a little springy when you push it with your fingers, if it is firm, its overcooked**
- this is a matter of timing, while the scallops are searing, the pasta should just be getting done; you want to toss the linguine with a few large spoonfuls of the pesto (use as much or as little as you like), as soon as you drain it.
- place the linguine with the pesto back in the pot, and hold on the back of the stove(off burner) until your scallops are done.
- plate pasta and top with scallops, serve immediately!
I do get questions about Old Bay seasoning from my friends from around the world. It’s a US seasoning originating in Baltimore, that we love on seafood. And I’ll let you in on a little secret………In Philly we love it on french fries! Of course the name varies, but I call them Crab Fries, serve up the fries with a healthy shake of old bay and a melted American cheese sauce and your in heaven……sigh
Sorry I got distracted, we were taking about Old Bay….. I found a few copycat recipes on the web since it’s probably very hard to get outside of the US, and although I’ve never made it at home, this should give you a good idea of what the seasoning mix is, if you’d like to give it a try, just click on Old Bay!
Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope your summer is going well, and don’t forget to make some memories!