More Winter Citrus: Meyer Lemon Pasta with Seared Scallops

A craving hit about 4pm. There was no way around it. I needed Meyer lemons, and nothing else would do. They’d be perfect in Amanda Hesser’s recipe for creamy lemon pasta with arugula. Imagine my delight when the first display in Whole Foods was a basket full of lemons and a big sign—Meyer lemons on sale! I happily snagged two…or so I thought.

In the grocery store, I often give myself permission to alter recipes beyond recognition. Creme fraiche is three dollars and packed with fat—no problem, I’ll use Fage yogurt! Real parmesan and arugula beyond my budget? (And I often feel like cooked arugula is a touch too bitter.) No worries, we have other hard cheese and vegetables at home. This continues until I have pretty much nothing a recipe calls for, except those precious Meyer lemons.

People who don’t live in New York may not have to wait in line 20 minutes to buy groceries. But that is not a rare occurence here, and I guess I’m getting used to it. The line at Trader Joe’s snakes around the entire store, and Whole Foods is a madhouse at prime hours. We have tiny refrigerators. We shop daily. So we wait in line with everyone else. When I finally reached the checkout counter, there was no turning back.

To my dismay, it turned out some of the lemons nested in that display, despite any signage to the contrary, were NOT Meyer lemons at all. I was heartbroken. I should have looked closer when I grabbed them. But with one tiny Meyer lemon, and one boring Eureka lemon, I had to soldier onward.

What I’m saying is this: this slightly disappointing meal was not Amanda Hesser’s fault. You should probably try her recipe, not mine. And you should check your lemons carefully before you wait in line.

The sauce wasn’t quite creamy or lemony enough. The peas and scallops didn’t really integrate together, and though each element was nice enough, it just didn’t cohere. But there is potential in this one, it’s worth trying another variation. A little salty proscuitto would certainly help. Or follow the recipe exactly for once.

Meyer Lemon Pasta with Seared Scallops
Adapted from Amanda Hesser

1 pound angel hair pasta
4 scallops per person
1/2 cup grated hard cheese + additional for serving
2 Meyer Lemons (I only had one, but you really should use 2)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed according to package directions.
3 slices proscuitto, in 1 inch pieces (recommended)
1/2 cup greek yogurt (or creme fraiche)
salt and pepper to taste

Zest the lemons and juice one of them. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta and prepare pasta (al dente) according to package directions. Remove small side muscle from scallops and discard. Heat a cast iron pan on high heat with a bit of olive oil. Salt and pepper scallops. Sear scallops to desired doneness (about 2 minutes per side, depending how hot your pan is.) Remove scallops and toss proscuitto strips briefly in hot pan. When pasta is cooked, reserve one cup of the pasta cooking water and drain pasta. Return pasta to cooking pot, add back in pasta water, yogurt, and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, zest, proscuitto strips, cheese, and peas, stirring and tossing to distribute sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with scallops on top.

In lemon, pasta, scallops

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