Scallops with Orange Vodka Shallot Sauce with Homemade Citrus Tarragon Pasta

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Sweet, savory, pretty.  

I selected satsuma (or any form of orange), shallots and edible flowers. I was inspired a few weeks ago by delicious organic satsumas at Whole Foods, but realizing not everyone has such access to satsumas, I settled on any kind of orange citrus. I chose edible flowers to chase away the winter blues, and shallots so all the entries wouldn’t be dessert, although I’m sure some creative cook could incorporate all three ingredients into a sweet treat.

I didn’t have a dish in mind when I picked the ingredients, thinking that the ingredients would pick the dish and they did. Handmade, orange, tarragon pasta in two different shapes topped with seared scallops, dripping in orange vodka butter sauce, caramelized shallots, all dressed up for spring with marigolds and pansies.

This dish is a mouthful of flavors, not big bold flavors, but distinct, elegant flavors. You can taste the tarragon, the shallots, certainly the orange and the vodka, and together they bring the scallops and pasta to life. I used only a pinch of salt and pepper, which is unusual for me, but speaks a lot for the flavors working just right.

Orange Tarragon Bow Ties.

Contest Key Ingredient: Tangelo
By the time I was ready to make this, I couldn’t get satsuma, so I decided to use tangelos, a hybrid citrus, a cross between a tangerine and pomelo grapefruit. They contain seeds, are very sweet, and very juicy.

The Pasta
A new favorite pasta flour is semolina pasta from Hodgson Mill. Testing it against other flours, this has good body to it.

I added fresh tarragon, zest and the juice of the tangelos to create a beautiful and flavorful pasta. I used to be unsure of myself making pasta because I make it by hand and then crank through an Atlas. But, I’ve discovered there is no exact recipe for pasta. You have to feel it to know if you need to add more flour, and I’ve come to “know” when it’s enough. I usually start with 1 cup flour and 2 eggs. Then depending on how the pasta is behaving, I gradually add more flour. When I am adding liquid, I use one less egg. There is more juice in a tangelo than a typical orange, so that will be adjusted with flour.

I used two shapes, triangles that hold the scallops, bowties surrounding scallops. The bowties hold the sauce well.

Contest Key Ingredient: Shallots
I used shallots into 2 different ways. Caramelized in sauce, and fried in panko breakcrumbs for the topping. If you don’t have shallots, you can use a sweet onion, chopped very fine.

The Sauce
Not only was this delicious, the whole house smelled wonderful. I started with butter, a sprig of tarragon and finely chopped shallots, cooking just until soft, adding the citrus. and added Grey Goose L’Orange vodka.

Contest Key Ingredient: Edible Flowers
I thought it would be easy to get flowers, but I wasn’t thinking about the time of year for most people. My pansies got scared off by the sudden cold of Nashville, and on a whim I drove to Whole Foods, and to my absolute delight, they were demonstrating edible flowers by Jacobs Farms. Vui was nice to tell me a food things about edible flowers:
Each flower tastes a bit differently, and she had me sample a few. Cut the flower from the stem. Many people ask “can you really eat these” and DC asked the same question, so when you serve flowers to guests, you need to reassure them that the flowers are more than garnish. They are a bit mustardy, spicy, and need a pungent, citrus flavoring to balance out the dish.

Citrus Vodka Shallot Butter Sauce

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large shallots, finely chopped
  • juice of 2 tangelos or 1 3/4 C orange juice
  • 4 -6 tarragon leaves
  • 1/4 cup orange or mandarin vodka (I used Grey Goose L’Orange)
  • zest of two tangelos or oranges
  1. Heat butter, medium low heat, in saute pan. Add shallots just until done. Add orange juice. Cook for 5 minutes. Add vodka.
  2. Reduce down until shallots are caramelized, about 20-30 minutes. Remove tarragon.

Shallot Crispy Topping

  • 2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk)
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Cover shallots with milk, dip into breadcrumbs and fry until crispy.

Scallops

  • 2 pounds large wild scallops (you can use smaller, and adjust cooking time)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Sea Salt, Pepper
  1. Clean scallops, removing muscle. Dry in paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat olive oil on medium high in large frying pan. Add Butter. When very hot, add scallop, cooking a 5 minutes on each side, until just cooked. If using an all-clad pan, only turn the heat to medium.

Edible Flowers
Make sure you use flowers that have not been treated with pesticides and are safe for eating.
I used marigolds and pansies, purchased in a package that specifically said “edible flowers” from

Assemble
Make pasta. Freeze flat, not touching.
Make Sauce. While sauce is reducing, cook pasta and scallops.
Cook pasta until al dente, 3-5 minutes in large pot salted water.

Once sauce is cooked, pour out half of it into another bowl.
Gently toss pasta through sauce in pan. Gently toss scallops though sauce.
Arrange on plate. Add flowers. Add crispy shallots.

Notes:
Seafood:
Shrimp were not the main part of the dish, just thrown in as extra. Cook for just a few minutes in same pan as scallops, once scallops are done.

Adding herbs and zest: Add chopped herbs to the flour and mix thoroughly BEFORE adding egg, so that the herb is equally distributed. It’s much harder to add to dough than to flour.

Pasta that is cut into shapes, designs is best frozen first so it holds its shapes. Freeze on cookie sheet or plastic cutting board lined with parchment paper. Once frozen, place in ziplock bags. Cook frozen. Pasta can be made several days in advance

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Homemade Citrus Tarragon Pasta

Homemade citrus tarragon pasta is great with a seafood dish such as scallops.
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • Pasta
  • 1 cup flour plus extra to adjust
  • 1 egg
  • Juice of one Tangelo or orange
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon can use basil also
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons orange zest

Instructions

  • Put flour in a mound on clean pasta table. Distribute salt, zest, herbs throughout flour. Make a hole in center, add egg and beat with fork, incorporating flour. If it’s too sticky, add more flour until you can work easily with your hands. Semolina will feel a little tougher than a all purpose flour. Cover, let set for 30 minutes.
  • Cut pasta into 4 sections. Roll with rolling pin to rectangular shape, thin enough to start taking through the machine. Roll through machine to number 8, one number at a time. You may need to flour in between If the pasta gets jagged from the herbs, just start over. (I never waste any pasta).
  • To make triangles:
  • Roll out long rectangles 3-4 inches wide. Cut into 3 inch squares, and cut into triangles. I use a pasta cutter.
  • To make bow ties: Cut rectangle shape 2 inch by 3 inch and pinch the middle.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper that will fit into freezer. Place individually cut pasta on sheet, freeze, then place in ziplock bags. Cook frozen. Pasta will not stick together, and will maintain shape.
  • To cook, bring large pot of salted water to boil. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes.

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