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Scallops Seared in Brown Butter Sage Sauce Tossed with Spaghetti

Capesante scottate in burro e salvia con spaghetti

Burro e Salvia, una combinazione semplice ma saporita - Butter and Sage, a simple yet flavorful combo

During the summer of 2018, my best friend from grad school and I got jobs taking a group of American high schoolers over to Ferrara in Emilia Romagna for six weeks. When we weren't herding 35 kids around the city to their activities, we were taking full advantage of the culinary scene. Emilia Romagna has arguably the best food in all of Italy, and for a country that's known for its food, that's really saying something.

Ferrara's signature dish, cappellacci di zucca, is a hat shaped pasta stuffed with butternut squash mixed with parmesan cheese and a dash of nutmeg. You can find these on most menus in Ferrara, and they are served two ways. One is with a ragù sauce, and the other is with a butter and sage sauce. After six weeks of taste testing, I still couldn't decide which sauce I like with them better, but I did know I had discovered a new favorite food combination: butter and sage.

The simplicity of fresh sage leaves crisped in butter and tossed with pasta somehow added an incredible depth of flavor to the dish that I wouldn't have thought possible with just two ingredients. While I have been too intimidated to try my hand at making cappellacci di zucca from scratch, I have come up with this delicious recipe for spaghetti with scallops seared in butter and sage that pays homage to my estate ferrarese.

La Ricetta - The Recipe

Gli ingredienti - The ingredients

  • gli spaghetti ~ spaghetti - 500 grams

  • burro ~ butter - 5 tablespoons

  • salvia ~ sage - 6-8 leaves

  • capesante ~ scallops (I used frozen ones) - 1 pound

  • sale ~ salt - for seasoning

  • pepe ~ pepper - for seasoning

  • parmigiano reggiano grattugiato ~ grated parmesan cheese - for serving

Step 1. Put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta and prepare the scallops. If using frozen, make sure they are fully defrosted before cooking. Always pat scallops dry to ensure maximum coloring when searing, and remove the little side muscles. Season with salt and/or pepper based on your preference.

Step 2. While waiting for the water to boil, melt the butter in a cast iron skillet. Once melted, add sage leaves and simmer until they are nice and crisp and the butter is browning. Remove the sage leaves to keep them from burning and place them on a plate.

*At this point, hopefully your water is boiling and you can add in the pasta. Cook the spaghetti until just al dente - you'll want the pasta firm when you add it to the skillet later.

Step 3. Sear the scallops in the butter, about 2 minutes each side or until they look nicely browned as in the picture above. Don't overcrowd the skillet with scallops. You will most likely need to cook them in batches. Place the seared scallops aside on the plate with the crisp sage leaves. Once you finish cooking the scallops, turn the heat off on the stove but do not empty or remove the skillet.

Step 4. Drain your pasta and pour it directly into the skillet, which should still be coated with browned butter. Add the sage and scallops on top. Toss together and serve with parmesan cheese!

So easy, so delectable.

Buon appetito!

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