I have been on a major pea shoot kick lately. Mostly in salads, but now that I have made pea shoot pesto, my meal frequency with them has increased by like a lot.
I love adding sprouts of any kind to salads and when I saw that Trader Joes was carrying organic pea shoots I had to try them as well. It was love at first bite. Now I don’t eat one of my big salads with out them.
The lovely people at California Walnuts offered to send me a bag of walnuts not that long ago. I love walnuts, they are my favorite nut to use in pesto too. I have never been a fan of pine nuts in pesto ( too bitter ) and I love how walnuts lend a creamy texture to pesto when raw, or a slightly smokier flavor when toasted first. I make pesto with either raw or toasted walnuts. When I saw the walnuts the day I got them I knew I wanted to make pesto ( after I shoved in a handful to eat right then and there) and I just so happened to have bought a few packs of pea shoots. It was meant to happen. I wasn’t required by the CA Walnuts people to make a recipe, but I wanted to and this came out so good. I just HAD to share!!
Such a gorgeous color. Pea shoot pesto will be in regular rotation in meals at my house now.
We aren’t huge pasta eaters in my house. Just not something I have ever really been a big fan of. My kids like pasta, and my husband will eat anything, so its usually up to me when it comes to using noodles for pasta dishes or subbing in veggies like zuchhini to make “zoodles”. Veggie noodles often win out, but for this recipe I knew I wanted to use regular pasta. I was originally thinking about using angel hair pasta, or some sort of super thin noodle, but then I saw the package of Bucatini and knew those would be perfect. They are like a thicker spaghetti but in a tube form. So they are great for a sauce like pea shoot pesto. Or a straw to drink water according to my kids…gross. Ha ha.
I am also a huge fan of seafood with pesto. Shrimp, scallops, halibut, you name it, I will slather with pesto. This time around I wanted to make it with scallops. The big diver’s scallops too, they are the best for searing. Scallops aren’t that hard to cook, but easy to cook wrong. My “trick” is to cook them on a cast iron pan and really preheat the pan well, 20-30 min. This will lend to a nice even sear on the scallops and they cook quicker and more evenly this way. I have a funny story about these scallops too.
See the plates in my photos? I ordered them from Crate and Barrel not that long ago. I love the colors and they were on a crazy good sale. Like $2 each. I was looking at so many different ones that when I went to order I didn’t pay attention to plate size. When they arrived in the mail I was so excited for my new food prop plates. I started to unwrap the plates ( which took forever, they were packaged up amazingly well) and I saw the first plate. I was like ummmm what the? This is TINY. Not what I ordered. Or was it?? It was I clearly didn’t pay attention that I had ordered small appetizer plates and not salad plates like I normally use. Big dinner plates are too big for photos.
I was laughing staring at these little plates wondering what to do. Keep them or exchange. Well I looked online and saw that these only came in appetizer size!! Unless the other sizes had sold out, these were it. I decided to keep them and have a little fun with them. I am buddies with the lead fish guy at my local Whole Foods. He calls me one of his local celebrity chefs ( He and his wife are huge fans of My Family Recipe Rocks and he hooked me up with my seafood for the taping of that show) and he is always asking me what I am making and if I have any photos of my latest recipes. I show him a photo of these scallops.
He says to me ” That looks good. Wait. Did you buy THOSE scallops from me??” ” Yeah I did. But you weren’t here that day”. ” Are you SURE? Those scallops are huge. I don’t think I have ever seen scallops that big” . I point to them in the case ” Yeah. They are the same ones as those right there”. He looks at me like I am totally pulling his leg. Then I said ” ohhhhh ha ha ha ha ha. You know what? These plates are TINY. Like 5 inches across, little appetizer plates. No wonder the scallops look so huge”. We both started cracking up. He thought they were regular dinner sized plates and that the scallops were on some serious steroids. And that leads to a food photography/styling secret. Use small plates to make food look bigger, or like there is more on the plate. Then again monster scallops would be pretty awesome too.
- For the Pesto
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- ⅔ c walnuts ( toasted or raw)
- zest and juice of one medium lemon
- 3 cups fresh pea shoots
- ½-2/3 c extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
- ½ to 1 tsp sea salt ( or to taste)
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ c freshly grated parmesan plus extra for garnish
- 8-10 ounces bucatini noodles ( or thick spaghetti)
- 1½ lbs large Divers Scallops ( not bay scallops)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- In a food processor pulse together the garlic, walnuts and lemon zest. Add in the juice and pea shoots and pulse again a few times. Leave the processor running and slowly pour in the olive oil a little at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides when necessary. You can add in more or less oil depending if you like thicker or thinner pesto. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking. Pulse in the parmesan. Remove from food processor to a bowl and set aside. There will be leftover pesto.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and then toss with ½ c to 1 cup of the pesto. Keep warm.
- Pre-heat a cast iron skillet on medium for about 20-30 min.
- Rinse and pat the scallops very dry, season with salt and pepper on both sides. Melt the butter and oil together on the skillet and once its slightly smoking add the scallops, making sure there is room between each. Sear for a 2-3 minutes one one side, then flip and sear again until they are opaque. If you have a small skillet, cook the scallops in batches, keeping warm until ready to serve
- Divide the pasta amongst plates, top each with a few scallops and sprinkle a little freshly grated parmesan on top and garnish with more pea shoots if desired. Serve immediately.
So there you have it. A tale of small plates, scallops that look bigger than they really are, tasty pea shoot pesto made with walnuts and a fun type of spaghetti that doubles as a straw.
Thanks again to CA Walnuts for sending me a sample. I received no compensation and was not obligated to create a recipe or post about them. I wanted to since I love walnuts and they are amazing in pea shoot pesto.