Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pan-seared Scallops with Pecan-Arugula Pesto on Zucchini Noodles and Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

My schedule has not been matching up with Claire's very well, so we are now both in cooking blog withdrawel. I've had to sneak in a post.  My first attempt was a wonderful grilled chicken, but the pictures came out all blurry and unacceptable. We'll have to save that for another time. In the meantime, these dishes are fantastic fall offerings.  Soup season is here!

Serve this with the soup below for a gorgeous and flavorful meal.
Pan-seared Scallops 
with Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Scallops are an overlooked favorite with kids, and a nice departure from chicken. The trick is to not overcook them, as they can get rubbery.  I used high heat and a dusting of flour to get a nice crisp coating. Fresh ones are the best, but I bought frozen so that I wasn't on a time crunch to get them cooked. The dried salted herb mixture is something that I use for my homemade croutons-- you don't have to be particular about the herbs that you add- adjust according to taste and what's in your spice rack.

1 lb. frozen thawed or fresh scallops
1-2 T flour
1-2 tsp salted dried herb mixture (sea salt, pepper, and a pinch each of thyme, oregano, rosemary, dill, parsley)

Toss scallops with flour and herb mixture. Heat pan on high with 1 T olive oil. Place the scallops in a single layer for a few minutes, and once browned, use tongs to flip to the opposite side for a couple more minutes.  Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your scallops. Once the scallops are done, arrange them them over a bed of zucchini noodles tossed with pecan-arugula pesto.

Pecan-Arugula Pesto and Zucchini Noodles
Zucchini noodles are one of my go-to favorites.  I use my lemon zester and mix the zucchini noodles with whole wheat pasta.  It cuts the carbs, adds moisture to the whole wheat pasta, and kids (and grown-ups) will gobble it up. The pesto was inspired by a recipe that originally called for almonds instead of pecans.  The leftover pesto is GREAT as a sandwich spread- try it with turkey and roasted red pepper with crisp lettuce.  Don't be afraid of the arugula.  It is not bitter at all.

1/2 c chopped pecans
2 1/2 c arugula
1 1/2 c spinach
1/2 c basil leaves
2 large cloves of garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Blend the first 5 ingredients together in a food processor, adding the oil slowly.  Add salt and pepper. 

Zucchini noodles:
2 small zucchini or 1 medium zucchini, zested in its entirety with a lemon zester
4 oz (1/4 package) whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked
1 small clove garlic, minced

In a large saute pan, heat 1 tsp olive oil and add garlic when it sizzles. Add the zucchini noodles and saute, but be somewhat gentle so you don't break up the noodles too much. After about a minute, add the cooked spaghetti. Add about 1/3 cup of the pecan arugula pesto, and toss gently in the saute pan until it is incorporated.  Add more pesto if necessary.  Serve with shaved parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. I also added 1/4 julienned red pepper for color. 

Red Curry Squash and Sweet Potato Soup
This soup has the most wonderful aroma, and is fantastic on a cold, dreary day. You can adjust the curry to your taste, but don't forget that the coconut milk will temper the spice.  If you don't have curry paste, you can also use red curry sauce, which I found at Trader Joe's. The original recipe called for butternut squash only, but I didn't quite have enough, so I threw in a sweet potato and had no regrets.  If it's too spicy, you can always add a dollop of Greek yogurt to cut the heat.

1 lb. butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1-2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 inch ginger root, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T red curry paste or 1/2 c red curry sauce
1 can (14 oz) lite coconut milk
3 c chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 T lime juice, and lime zest if you used fresh lime
1 tsp salt
1/2 c frozen corn (frozen roasted corn if you can find it)
2 diced scallions
1/4 c chopped cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Toss the squash and the sweet potatoes with 1 T olive oil and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tender.  In a large soup pot, heat 1 T olive oil and add the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Saute until the onions are translucent and turn off heat. Add the chicken stock, coconut milk, red curry paste, lime juice and zest.  Add the squash and sweet potatoes, and using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is smooth. Turn the heat back on and add the corn, half the scallions, and salt to taste. Once the soup is heated, ladle into large bowls and garnish with the rest of the scallions and cilantro.

Please leave comments/suggestions.  We love hearing from you!


  1. The soup is a keeper. I would add closer to 2T of curry paste for more zing. I thought this would make for a great soup served with a bunch of TJ appetizers (samosas, etc).

    I tried making the pesto twice, and both times were.... not good. We ended up just eating the zucchini noodles and scallops as is, which were moist enough without the pesto.

  2. Bummer about the pesto- mine was good, and lasted about a week. I used it mixed in with rice, on toast, scrambled eggs, etc. Maybe try the Spinach pesto next time? Glad you liked the soup!