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Scallops, mushrooms mingle in creamy pasta dish

One of scallops’ most appealing virtues is how quickly they cook.

And please, please, please make the cooking time short. As I mentioned in this blog’s previous post, people who think they don’t like this sweet shellfish likely have a penchant for overcooking them. Scallops should be seared on the outside and still translucent at the very center.

So slicing and dicing other ingredients before beginning a recipe for scallops is critical. Mushrooms, scallions and garlic in this pasta dish enter the picture after the shellfish has had barely a two-minute head start. Then it’s time to add a cream sauce that was prepared about 20 minutes earlier. If your timing is spot-on, you’ll serve a dish in which all the components are cooked to ideal doneness.

I may consider, however, substituting oyster mushrooms for the portobellos listed here. Oysters are more delicate and, as their name implies, have a flavor reminiscent of seafood. Unlike portobellos, they don’t have big stems to steep with the sauce, so you could use any mushroom that may have lingered a bit long in the fridge, or dried mushrooms.

Scallops and Mushroom Bowtie Pasta

4 to 6 ounces portobello mushrooms

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup dry white wine

8 ounces bowtie pasta

Vegetable oil (not olive)

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops

1 cup chopped scallions, white parts only, or sweet onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper, to taste

Remove stems from the mushrooms and coarsely chop them. Slice caps and set aside.

Place mushroom stems and the cream in a small, nonreactive saucepan. Bring cream to a boil and gently boil for at least 10 minutes or until cream is reduced by half. Pour in the wine and boil for 2 to 3 minutes longer. Set mixture aside. This sauce can be kept in refrigerator for up to 3 days before using.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until cooked through but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand.

Meanwhile, put enough of the oil in a very hot pan to film it lightly. Add the scallops and sear lightly on both sides (they will continue to cook as recipe continues); their surface should be a light, nutty brown. Add mushroom caps, the scallions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes or until mushrooms are barely cooked through. Stir in reserved mushroom sauce and reheat gently.

Drain pasta thoroughly and mix with scallop mixture. Sprinkle with the parsley. Season liberally with the salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “The New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook,” by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer.

Tribune News Service