Did you make your preserved lemons yet? If not, what are you waiting for? If you had started your preserved lemons a month or two ago, you could make this for dinner tonight!
As the weather turns nicer and the sights and smells of spring are all around, my thoughts turn to lighter fare like seafood, fresh herbs, and pasta dishes. Don’t let the “cream” in the title fool you, this sauce is lovely and light with the salty-sour taste of preserved lemon mixing with fresh basil. It is fast and easy to put together, making it perfect for a weeknight dinner. We used small Maine bay scallops in this recipe but it would be equally lovely with larger scallops. Please just make sure to source your ingredients carefully. Don’t go buying farmed seafood from Asia… there aren’t a lot of regulations and lord only knows what kind of stuff might end up in your scallops.
P.S., if you don’t have preserved lemon but want to make this anyway, use the zest of a regular lemon instead. It won’t have quite the same flavor but is will still be fresh and tasty.
P.P.S., if you don’t have any basil laying around, you could substitute fresh thyme or dill for a different, but still lovely taste
Scallops in Lemon-Basil Cream Sauce
8 oz spaghetti, cooked and drained
8 oz bay scallops
4 tbls butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
lemon peel from 1/2 a preserved lemon, finely diced
2 tbls cornstarch
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter just begins to brown, add the scollops. Cook for 1 minute, turn over and cook for another minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
To prepare the preserved lemon, remove it from the jar and rinse well. Scrape out the pulp and white pith and discard. Finely chop the peel and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet that you cooked the scallops in. Using that pan, melt remaining two tbls butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sautee until just starting to brown, about 30 seconds. Add the half-and-half, chicken stock, and preserved lemon. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and cornstarch. Pour into the sauce and cook for about 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Add the scallops and cooked and drained spaghetti. Add a small amount of pasta water as needed to thin the sauce. Stir in the basil just prior to serving. Top with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.
Serve immediately. Serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are.