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Bold flavors rescue a seafood pasta dish

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Fresh basil leaves are tossed into a scallop pasta dish, adding color and a strong herbal flavor.

For a recipe with just 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.

Grated Parmesan ensured that our vinaigrette was perfectly clingy and hung on to the pasta and shellfish.

Because this recipe is so simple, it is important to use high-quality extra-virgin olive oil, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and fresh basil.

Spaghetti With Lemon, Basil and Scallops

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced to paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 pound small bay scallops
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

Whisk oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and 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 to skillet in single layer and cook until firm, about 3 minutes; transfer to bowl and cover.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot and salt well. Add pasta 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. Toss to combine. Add reserved cooking water as needed to adjust consistency and season with more salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.

Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 587 calories, 29 g total fat, 37 mg cholesterol, 506 mg sodium, 61 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 20 g protein.

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