Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sister Sunday

I’m the middle child among three girls. My older sister, Mely, is 26, and lives in Colorado, with her husband Aaron, who is a Warrant Officer in the Army, and their new four-month-old son, Jackson (who I’m going to visit next week!). Angie, my younger sister, is 23, works as a pharmacy technician, is a full-time student at Uconn (graduating this spring) and has a four-year-old daughter, Nadya. Needless to say, Angie has a very busy schedule, but I’ve always been very close with my sisters, and in order to make sure Angie and I get a little time to see each other every week, we started having “Sister Sunday,” a weekly dinner date at my apartment, since we are both off from work and Nadya spends Sunday nights with her father. This Sunday, our mom joined us since my father is away for the week.

This week, we actually thought out our dinner in advance, and settled on linguine with scallops in a lemony wine sauce, and Caesar Salad on the side. It was a first for me, so I looked at a few different recipes and combined different elements from each that I thought would work, adding in a few of my own touches. Angie doesn’t cook. Usually, she sits at the kitchen table, or on one of the bar stools at the counter, munching happily on whatever appetizer I’ve set out for her (shrimp cocktail this week), while I cook. I don’t mind. She’s happy, I’m happy, and we have a great meal ahead of us.

So here is what I started with:

  • 1 pound of Spinach Linguine
  • 1 pound sea scallops, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 small yellow squash
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • About 1 cup dry white wine
  • One lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 stems of fresh basil, about 15 leaves, shredded
  • 1 tomato, chopped
Boil the water for the pasta, and begin cooking the scallops once you put the pasta in the boiling water. Boil the pasta according to the directions on the package. Heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a large skillet until they combine. Add the scallops and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook. Scoop the scallops out with a slotted spoon into a bowl, and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the liquid cooked off of the scallops in a separate container to reserve. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the same pan and sauté the garlic and shallots for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol for 5 minutes before adding the squash. Cook another 5 minutes, until squash is tender. Add the liquid reserved from cooking scallops and the lemon juice, and stir together. Add the cooked linguine, chopped tomatoes, thyme, and shredded basil. Stir together until pasta is coated in the sauce, and serve.

The only pitfall I experienced making this was the horror I felt when I realized that I forgot to pick up a bottle of my favorite white wine, a Luna di Luna chardonnay and pinot grigio blend, and since it was Sunday and we live in the great, conservative-on-liquor-sales state of Connecticut, ended up stuck using a bottle of COOKING WINE from the grocery store. Imagine.

I used basil and thyme from my Aerogarden, a Christmas gift from my parents that keeps on giving. I have fresh herbs year-round, and am never short on flavor. That, and, you pretty much can’t kill it. It lets you know when it needs watering, nutrients, etc. The grow lights even run on a timer to simulate daylight. Also, you can use it to grow cherry tomatoes, green beans, etc. So far, I’ve only used their herb pod kit, but it really is fail-proof and can’t wait to try growing something new.

We had our linguine with a Caesar salad tossed together quickly from a head of romaine lettuce, prepared croutons and creamy Caesar dressing, and grated parmesan cheese, with warm multigrain bread on the side.

The result was pretty good. The lemon-wine sauce was light but flavorful, with notes of basil and lemon combining to balance out the strong, sweet taste of the sea scallops. The tomato added a nice contrast to not only the color palate of the dish, but to the overall impression it leaves you with. I was very happy with the result and Angie told me that it was her favorite meal we’d had, out of all of our Sunday night dinners.

For dessert, I served some prepared tiramisu rounds and New York style cheesecake from the bakery at Stop and Shop. I chopped up a few strawberries, and tossed them with a teaspoon of sugar to get their juices flowing, and topped the cheesecake with them, and a sprig of mint (also from my Aerogarden). I finished my dessert platter off with a few whole strawberries. Our meal was complete and our bellies were full, and another “Sister Sunday” had passed.

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