Summer pasta with fresh tomatoes and scallops

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I haven’t been able to get this dish off my mind since summer tomatoes first appeared at the farmer’s market. Sure, you can make it any time of year, but even quality boxed tomatoes simply don’t compare to sweet, in season Midwest tomatoes.

Plus, it’s one of the few dishes I make at home with scallops. And, I love scallops.

I typically prefer bay scallops for pasta, since the smaller size mixes in well (and that’s how I first had a less evolved version of this dish years ago, at a friend’s house). But Trader Joe’s only had Jumbo sea scallops, which have their own benefits — mainly, you can easily see when they’ve turned opaque. All scallops cook quickly, regardless of size, and I’ve overcooked the little guys in the past by throwing them in with the tomatoes and not paying close enough attention.

Since this dish goes quickly, I get everything ready beforehand: chop about a pound and a half of tomatoes; wash, dry and roughly cut a loosely packed cup of fresh basil; pat dry a pound of scallops; mince four cloves of garlic; and put the pasta water on to boil.

After sautéing the garlic in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, I add the basil and the tomatoes. I then move it to the back burner and stir it occasionally for about the next 10 minutes.

Five minutes later, I heat about the same amount of olive oil and add the scallops. As soon as they’re in, I throw about three-quarters of a package of angel hair pasta into the boiling water.

I time the scallops, flipping them after three minutes. Capellini cooks fast, and at this point is ready to head to the colander. After a couple of quick shakes, I move it to the serving bowl and top it with the tomato mixture.

OK, things are about to get a little weird.IMG_2515

I add a bunch of crumbled feta. That’s right, feta. Its saltiness goes perfectly with the fresh tomatoes and scallops. I don’t know why. Just trust me.

At that point, the scallops are ready. I mix the tomatoes and feta in with the pasta, and plate it with the scallops.

Mike’s verdict: Restaurant quality.

 

p.s. Yeah, it’s been a while. Let’s not talk about it.

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Rainy market day

7/12 market

Chicago’s torrential storms yesterday nearly ruined market day. But when the rain finally stopped, I had just enough time to get to the closest farmer’s market, in a high school parking lot in our neighborhood.

For the first time, I missed our CSA and always having fresh vegetables at the ready. We were in northern Michigan for the Fourth (actually, the fifth), so our crisper has been sadly bare the past couple of weeks.

Only a handful of vendors had stuck it out, but I still managed to fill my bag with an onion, cucumber, kohlrabi, hothouse tomato, beets, cabbage and blueberries.

Market report: Garlic scapes — and kohlrabi, too!

June 28 market

I missed two Saturdays of the farmer’s market while in Montana and my, how things changed! The last of the strawberries are now out, but are being replaced with favorites I’ve been longing for. Namely, garlic scapes and kohlrabi.

You might recall that I got a little obsessed with garlic scapes last year, and ended up making carbonara with them three times before perfecting the dish. To the point that I had carbonara out the other night and thought, “mine’s better.” (This rarely happens.) This go-around, I may even get a little crazy and toss in the fresh English peas I found today.

My niece Leah and I have been waiting patiently for kohlrabi to come into season, although she wasn’t as excited as I thought she would be when I called her this morning from the farmer’s market and woke her after I found it. Some people eat kohlrabi raw, but I prefer it peeled, tossed in olive oil, and roasted.

I also filled my farmer’s market bag with beets (more on this experiment later), three types of summer squash and sweet Michigan cherries.

For the first time, I ran out of room in my bag before I ran out of cash. Now that’s a good day at the market.

Farmer’s market Saturday: We have berries!

June 7

There were strawberries galore at Green City Market today, and from Michigan no less. Michigan strawberries are truly the best. Even if I wasn’t partial to my home state, which I very much am, this would still be true.

I also picked up asparagus, carrots, rhubarb, spinach and Swiss chard. (Yes, Swiss chard. I feel like eating some this week but won’t force any on Mike.)

Although my market bag was about full, I couldn’t pass up Hoosier Mama Pie Company’s small chess pie. I had my first sampling of this Southern favorite at my friend Molly’s backyard wedding in Nashville last summer. So good.

Overall, a nice day at the market. I’m happy that my berry bowl is finally full — not that it will be for long.

To market, to market

Market

We decided against a third season of the CSA. As awesome as our experience was last summer, I missed lazy Saturdays at the farmer’s market. Our weekly shares were so bountiful that there was simply no need to bother.

I’ll admit, I haven’t missed those boxes of vegetables one bit. These early weeks in particular are so, so green. I saw Swiss chard at a stand at Green City Market over the weekend and smiled knowing that I didn’t feel like eating any, and I wouldn’t have to. Instead, I bought purple and green asparagus, a big bag of mixed mushrooms, and rhubarb. (And macarons on the way home.)

The mushrooms and asparagus went into this Food Network recipe I bookmarked a couple of weeks ago, for Creamy Farfalle with Cremini, Asparagus and Walnuts. I’m using the rhubarb tomorrow for the rhubarb blueberry muffins I featured in this April post.

I can’t wait to head back to the market next week, and am hoping garlic scapes will make an appearance. Fingers crossed.