When I was making this I gotta tell you my mind was going in about a million different directions. It’s technically what I call default pasta because I made it up as I went along and I used just a few ingredients that I had on hand. Including these super fresh, straight from the Farmers Market sweet English peas.
It’s a super simple but elegant first course. Peas, butter, frozen scallops, a few fresh herbs, and pasta. My brother Grant paired this with Cantina di Monteforte “Re Teodorico” Soave 2009, so the beginning of a memorable meal was in the making.
But my mind wasn’t on making memories, it was being flooded by memories…
You see the whole thing started because I was making this meal while I was listening to some cable pundit talking about “kids today” and all the crazy stuff they are up to. The guy on TV was trying to make the point that kids today have an exaggerated sense of invulnerability and are far more likely to participate in dangerous activities than the kids from previous generations. Like the kids say, from my generation. Naturally he blamed video games for the deterioration of childhood innocence.
Now I am not a gamer, and I am not here to defend video games. In fact I pay very little attention to video games and really have no opinion about them at all. But I will say kids will be kids and they will have their fun no matter what I say.
So why do I even bother saying it? Well that has a lot to do with the pasta dish I was creating that night. Because at the center of my recipe is Hot Peas & Cold Butter.
In fact Hot Peas & Cold Butter is what makes me uniquely qualified to respond directly to that talking head on CNN. And that response is a resounding “Baloney”!
Kids today are not more sadistic or vengeful than the kids from his gilded childhood. I doubt they are any more aggressive either. And you know what 99% of kids today will grow up just fine, no matter what games they play together.
But what the heck does this little tirade have to do with my Grilled Scallops & Fettuccine with English Pea Butter Sauce recipe.
Well, maybe I am dating myself, but when I was a kid there was a particularly sadistic little game we played called Hot Peas & Cold Butter. Maybe it was regional game, because we only played it when I lived in Utah, but I did a little research and I am not the only kid that played this little game. It had several names and they all had peas and butter in the title. So I’ll let let the Urban Dictionary sum up the game just so you know that I am not making this whole thing up.
“HOT PEAS & BUTTER is a fun ass game in which one person hides a belt and asks a group of people to find it. The person who hid the belt can help the people find it easier by saying degrees of temperature (i.e. hot, warm, cold) as a metaphor to describe their proximity to the whereabouts of the belt. After a person finds the belt they yell “Hot peas and butter!” and the other participants have to run back to home base before they get their ass whipped with the belt.”
I am not kidding. The point of the game was to slap other kids really hard with the belt before they made it home safe! I can still feel the sting of the welts that belt produced on the back of my young legs! So when I hear that video games are the cause of children feeling particularly invulnerable I would like to remind the pundits that the only video game we had was Pong. Which was so boring we had to run outside and invent sadistic, vengeful and aggressive games.
Grilled Scallops and Fettuccine with English Pea Butter Sauce serves 6 as a first course CLICK here for a printable recipe
- 1 1⁄2 c shelled fresh, small english peas
- salt, as needed
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 c white wine
- 1 c plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 T mint leaves, minced
- 1⁄2 lb fettuccine
- 12 sea scallops, tough muscles removed
- 2 T olive oil
- black pepper, to taste
- 1 t fresh thyme leaves, minced
Prepare an ice bath.
Put the peas into a medium sauce pan and cover with cool water. Add about 2 teaspoons salt and bring to a boil. Cook until tender but still bright green, about 6 minutes. Drain the peas and plunge them into the ice bath to stop cooking. Strain. Puree the peas using a food mill or food processor, you may need to add a teaspoon or water or so. You want a consistency that is neither pasty nor watery. Set aside.
Combine the shallots and wine in a medium non-reactive sauce pan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Lower the heat and gradually whisk in 1‑cup of the butter, one or two pieces at a time. When the butter has been incorporated, remove the sauce from the heat. Strain the butter sauce and discard the solids. Return the sauce to the saucepan. Scrape the pea puree into the saucepan with the butter sauce and add half of the minced mint, stirring until fully incorporated. Cover and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
While the pasta cooks grill the scallops. Heat the grill or grill pan to medium-high. Toss the scallops with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl until they are well coated. Season with salt and pepper.
Lay the scallops on the grates of the grill or grill pan. They should sizzle. Do not crowd the scallops, work in batches if necessary.
Grill them on one side until the scallops develop golden brown grill marks, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then turn them once and continue cooking another minute or so longer. They just be barely cooked through and rare. Remove from grill and allow them to rest while you finish the pasta.
Drain the pasta and quickly move it to a large bowl. Allow a small amount of the cooking water to come along. Add the minced thyme, remaining mint and remaining butter. Toss well.
To serve gently warm the peas sauce over low heat and then spoon a small amount of onto 6 warmed plates or shallow bowls. Swirl some of the pasta into a compact shape and place it next to the sauce. Top with 2 scallops per plate and serve.
SERIOUS FUN FOOD