I have just been needing a big bowl of pasta in my life and the universe provided!
I was down in Pike's Place Market the other day shopping for my fruits and vegetables. While I was waiting for them to put my order together I popped over to a neighboring stand who were selling a wide array of interesting flavors of pasta. My intention was to buy only one package (I am terrible about going to a market stand and refraining from buying anything) but they had so many unique flavors I couldn't decide.
So, I decided to buy 4 packages! That is what you do when you can't decide what to buy, right? Just buy everything.
One of the flavors I bought was a Tunisian harissa. It had this beautiful orange color. I was playing around with what sauce I wanted to make when I randomly called my mom who was with me at the time; and had bought the same pasta. She told me she had made a shrimp Cajun style sauce. I was like, "Thanks mom, that is a great idea! I am going in that direction too!"
I have to admit that I am not super familiar with Cajun cooking but it is definitely a cuisine I have wanted to get myself comfortable with. I had read in one of my continuous food studies that the base of any Cajun or Creole dish is a dark flavorful roux.
Like most of you know I try to avoid overdoing it on the dairy when possible and I knew the roux would help add a thickness to the sauce without too much need for cream or milk. (I used almond!)
I added shallots and garlic to the pan and let it sweat for a bit and then added the flour and butter. I let the mixture cook for about 20 minutes until the roux was nice and brown.
One of the aspects I love about my Butcher Box is that I always have a fun variety of selections in my freezer. Butcher Box started selling scallops so I definitely made sure they were in my next box. I wanted to add seafood to this dish, so it was like perfect timing! Plus, I love scallops! I always have, they are one of my favorite seafood dishes to order on any menu. They are so buttery and melt in your mouth good.
These Cajun pan seared scallops in brow butter are no exception!
Just don't overcook them! It's so easy to do because they cook so fast. For me, I like them almost raw in the middle. Scallops that have been cooked too long are rubbery and you do not want that!
I added fish stock which I felt would contribute more to the seafood flavor that I was looking for, but you can add chicken or vegetable just as easily.
To make it easier for me to incorporate the essential oils I just made a Cajun seasoning beforehand. Honestly, whether you use essential oils or not it is just easier this way, but making the spice before makes it easier to ensure you don't overuse the essential oils to the point of not tasting good; especially when potent oils like oregano and thyme are involved!
I almost forgot! The Cajun seasoning was also what we used to coat the scallops before we cooked them. Another reason for making the seasoning in advance.
I will say right now, the Cajun sauce is delicious on its own. You don't NEED the basil chimichurri but it does add a refreshing and flavorful element that really compliments the sauce. It's also really quick to make! I just tossed in the basil, olive oil, garlic, lemon essential oil and vinegar into a food processor and pushed start. Done!
This was another time that essential oils came to my rescue. I realized I didn't have a single lemon in my house so I just grabbed my bottle of lemon and was saved. If you do have lemon, definitely throw in the some zest and little bit of juice. Easy peasy either way!
To me, pasta is a great dish to have once it starts getting a little colder outside and here in Seattle it is getting just that. We pretty much had a torrential rain storm yesterday which was amazing.
(I love cloudy rainy weather, so yes, I was made to live in here in Pacific Northwest.)
The only thing that makes life a little better on a chilly night is a big bowl of creamy spicy Cajun pasta topped with herby basil chimichurri and buttery pan seared scallops.