Do you ever eat or make a dish that makes you take pause? Like in a “OMG, this is really, really special” way.
It happens to me all the time. I can feel your eyes rolling. What can I say? I am easily excited by good food. That’s not to say that I am jaded by tons of good food all the time (which is not a terrible problem to have); I just get really into whatever it is I’m making or eating. It’s a true passion.
But even in my overzealous ways, I tend to have a few serious “come to Jesus” food moments, and when I ate this pasta, I experienced another one. It’s pasta perfection, people. How’s that for some alliteration skills?
I’m a huge pasta fan. I don’t know how to pick my favorite kind of pasta dish. I love, love, love a winter pasta that involves slow-cooked, tomato-based sauce or braised meat or roasted vegetables or bust-out-the-sweatpants bechamel cream sauces. There’s almost nothing as comforting as a bowl of braised short rib pasta or decadent mac & cheese when it’s freezing outside.
But, I am also pretty obsessed with lighter summer pastas as well. Give me all the pestos and light, lemony sauces! Give me seafood! Or grilled chicken! Or just beautiful summer tomatoes and mozzarella cheese! There’s something just so…satisfying about pasta, no matter the season.
Another reason I love making pasta? It’s easy. And usually pretty fast (unless we’re talking about slow-braised short ribs, of course). It’s perfect for a Sunday evening meal in our house.
Lately, Dan and I have been saving our Sunday dinners for after Kieran is in bed. Don’t get me wrong: we still eat majority of our meals with him present, as a family. Every now and then, though, it’s nice to have an adults-only dinner at home. I remember my parents doing this when we were little, too. Their conversation, soft laughter, and the clink of their wine glasses would waft into our dark bedrooms as we drifted off to sleep. Hearing my parents downstairs was a comfort. It is a very vivid and special memory.
We’ve adopted this occasional tradition. Sunday nights seem to be our go-to time for this. Maybe it’s our way of easing ourselves back into the workweek? Or maybe it’s because it’s a nice moment to take pause after a busy weekend and before an even busier week, pour a glass of wine, and chat in the kitchen while the pasta cooks and the scallops sear. It’s a way to unwind. It’s a simple but special thing.
This pasta is pretty darn special too. Not only is every stand of pasta coated in delicious basil pesto (I even used store bought to keep my life easy – no shame!) and a hefty grating of cheese, but we also have gorgeously sweet, bursting-with-perfection roasted cherry tomatoes and my absolute favorite seafood item ever: scallops.
Goodness, do I love scallops. They’re such a treat with their meaty texture and natural sweetness. They’re lovely simply seared or over a light pasta like this one. The less you do to them, the better. We both love them but don’t eat them frequently, which makes them even more special. Perfect for our Sunday night meals.
The combo of flavors and textures going on in this dish is pretty spectacular. The scallops get an awesome crust on them and impart their sweetness to the dish. The tomatoes get sweet AND savory in the oven. Seriously, if you haven’t tried roasting tomatoes yet, you are missing out! They’re delicious. Like biting into juicy little jewels. And the pasta is just, well, satisfying. Like it always is. The perfect vessel for just about anything.
Dan and I both knew this dish was going to be good. How could it not be? We ate this with fervor. Our conversation mellowed a bit as we ate and drank. Most of what was said after the meal was served was “Oh goodness, this is amazing” or “God, I wish there was more.” It was truly delicious from the first bite to the last.
Not only was the dish spectacular, but the time together, enjoying an awesome, adults-only meal was pretty darn spectacular in its own right.
It was definitely a “come to Jesus” food moment. And a tradition I plan on continuing.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 pint of cherry tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
1 lb linguine pasta
12 dry bay scallops
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup prepared pesto (store bought or homemade)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped
Salt and pepper
Garlic bread, for serving (optional but recommended!)
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the oil, and season well with salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.
Roast for 15-20 minutes or until the tomatoes are bursting and even charred in some spots. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the linguine until el dente and drain, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining oil and the butter. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and then season with salt and pepper. Sear in the hot skillet for 1-2 minutes per side, leaving them undisturbed so that each side can caramelize and develop a golden brown crust. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Place the linguine in a large bowl with the pesto, half of the grated cheese, and roughly ¼ cup of the cooking liquid. Toss thoroughly with tongs so that each strand of pasta is well coated in the pesto and everything becomes sort of saucy. Add more cooking liquid, as needed, to thin out the pesto.
Divide the pasta among serving bowls and top with the roasted tomatoes, seared scallops, more cheese, and fresh basil. Serve immediately with lots of garlic bread on the side.