For a recipe with a handful of ingredients, pasta with shellfish is awfully hard to get right.
We love the combination of tender pasta and succulent shrimp or bite-size bay scallops, but all too often the shellfish is overcooked and tough and the pasta is boring and flavorless.
For an extraordinary but simple spaghetti dinner, we created a creamy vinaigrette packed with bright, lemony flavor and tossed it with tender shrimp, hot pasta, butter and chopped basil.
Spaghetti with Lemon, Basil and Scallops
Start to finish: 30 minutes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/2 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 small garlic clove, minced to paste
Salt and pepper
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1 cup)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 pound small bay scallops
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
Whisk oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in small bowl, then stir in Parmesan until thick and creamy.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add scallops in single layer and cook until scallops are firm, about 3 minutes; transfer to bowl and cover.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Stir in olive oil mixture, scallops with any accumulated juices, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and basil and toss to combine. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.