Posted by: Rachel | April 18, 2010

a pesto by any other name…

It seems to me that more and more of my friends are discovering or developing food-related allergies. I had a good friend over for dinner this week. The no-no list included dairy, eggs, wheat, certain nuts, *anything* that either feeds or includes yeast, anything fermented (beer, wine, vinegar(!)) sesame seeds… a long list.

I figured seafood was safe, so we had scallops. I have only recently discovered that
a) I really really love scallops (I thought I only liked them) and
b) they are incredibly simple to cook (I don’t know why I thought it was complicated…)

Here’s what I did. I got a big pot of salted water boiling and dropped in some gluten-free brown rice flour and flax seed angel hair pasta. Then, in a separate deep skillet I heated a couple of tablespoons of orange-infused olive oil (rememberthese good folks?), dropped in the scallops and tossed them to coat. I let them sautee for about 4 minutes, added the pesto, pulled the almost cooked pasta out of the water and added it, mixed and served. I believe the correct phrase is OMG…

All I served with it was a simple mixed greens salad (with additional spinach from a local urban farm with a “vinaigrette” made of the same orange-infused olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Can you call it a vinaigrette if there’s no vinegar? I’m not sure but it was delicious (I’m so modest ).

Sorry no pictures — I was too busy cooking and forgot! Here’s the mint and the basil, though…

pot of mint

pot of gold,

6 kinds of basil!

pesto on the hoof...


1/2 C leaves of fresh basil and mint
1/2 C walnuts
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and rough chopped
about 1/2 C olive oil

Put the herbs (I used a mixture of sweet Italian basil, cinnamon basil, spicy globe, and blue African with a few sprigs of orange mint) and garlic in a small food processor. Pulse to mix well and get the garlic dispersed. Add the walnuts and pulse a few more times. Add the oil and mix until as smooth as you like. I like it chunky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Scallops with Pesto for 2

1/2 lb fresh (ask to sniff them if you’re not sure) scallops
2 T olive oil
angel hair pasta (1/2 of an 8-oz package)

Cook pasta per package directions. As soon as the pasta goes into the boiling water, start heating the olive oil for the scallops. Get the scallops cooking. At about 3 minutes, add the pesto to the scallops and stir to mix well. Check the pasta and *just* before it is done, drain it (reserving about 1/2 C of the pasta water) and add it to the scallop/pesto mixture. Add a bit of the pasta water to deglaze the pan. Mix again, and serve.

You can dress it up with a few bits of fresh parsley on top, if you like. This would also be dandy with shrimp.
All it needs is a nice green salad to accompany, and, of course, a good friend!



  1. […] mean, pesto means a general kind of sauce, yes? It doesn’t have to have basil, right? Does hummus have to […]

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