Today is my 4th wedding anniversary. It’s kind of hard to go out to dinner with 3 kids under the age of 2, so I said that I would cook. Since it’s a special day, I thought I would make a somewhat lavish dish. Honestly, this is a typical meal on a weeknight at our house, but scallops and pasta in the same night is a treat.
I always cook with marsala and I wanted a different flavor profile tonight. VODKA! I didn’t want the typical tomato based vodka cream sauce, so I decided just to do a vodka lemon cream sauce.
Since I didn’t want to go too overboard with the fat and calories, I cut out the heavy cream and used mascarpone cheese in its place. So put the kids to bed, bust out some frying pans, and let’s get cooking!
Scallops With Vodka Lemon Cream Sauce
6 shallots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of vodka
1, 14.5 oz can chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano (with a little extra to sprinkle over the top at the end before serving)
3-4 oz of mascarpone cheese
Juice of half a large lemon
Lemon zest (about half a lemon worth)
1 bunch of asparagus, chopped
4 tbspn butter
1 tspn granulated garlic
Pepper to taste
Salt to taste
About 20 good size (not jumbo) scallops, cleaned and patted dry to remove excess moisture
3/4 box (I left some plain for the kids) of Dreamfield’s Rotini pasta, cooked
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, saute the shallots in 2 tbspn of butter. When they just start to caramelize, add the crushed garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the vodka and reduce down by at least half. Stir in the lemon zest, chicken broth. lemon juice, mascarpone cheese, and grated parm. Turn the heat down to medium and let the sauce reduce down and thicken up a bit. At this point you can go ahead and add in the pepper and granulated garlic. I didn’t need any salt because the cheese made it salty enough for my tastes. Right before you get ready to serve, you will toss in the cooked pasta to warm through and the asparagus to cook. If you like your asparagus with a bite, add when you toss in the pasta. If you want it a bit softer, add it in a few minutes before you toss in the pasta.
The scallops only need about 5 minutes tops to cook.
In a large saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tbspn of butter. Season the scallops with a little salt and pepper and squirt a little lemon juice over them. Make sure the pan is hot (don’t cook the scallops on high, but make sure the pan is hot enough to get a good crust) and sear the scallops for about 3 minutes. You want a good golden brown color. Flip and continue to cook for another minute or two. DO NOT OVERCROWD YOUR PAN! If you overcrowd your pan you will end up boiling the scallops, so cook in a couple of batches if necessary.
Place the scallops on top of the pasta, sprinkle with a little grated parm and drizzle a small amount of truffle oil over it. Then mow down.