A lovely meal to cook in the spring and adapt throughout the season, this relies on a good assortment of fresh vegetables, a few storecupboard tricks and a piquant cherry tomato sauce. Our family adaptation is to add a little seafood - usually some smoked or boiled prawns, or a few flakes of smoked fish, or in this case some succulent sauteed scallops. This serves six hungry people- you can see my dad getting ready to tuck in :)
- 1 kg fresh spring vegetables like baby sweetcorn, sprouting broccoli, green beans, asparagus, shelled broad beans, peas etc
- half a pack of dried porcini mushrooms
- 200g pine nuts
- 2-3 punnets of cherry tomatoes
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 1-2 dried chillies
- Enough fresh linguine for 6
- 6-12 large fresh scallops
- Parmesan cheese
Steam or parboil the vegetables until blanched and crisp. Cover the mushrooms in boiling water and a plate, and soak for 20 minutes. Toast the pine nuts over a low to moderate heat in a non-stick frying pan, until they are golden brown.
Slice half of the cherry tomatoes in half and the rest into quarters. Finely chop the chilli(es) and add with the garlic into a few tbsp of hot olive oil in a deep frying pan, and add the quartered cherry tomatoes thirty seconds later. Allow the tomatoes to collapse gently, over about five minutes, then add the halved cherry tomatoes and cook for a further five minutes. (Two different cuts of tomatoes will give the sauce more texture.)
Set the pasta on to a rolling boil in a slightly salted water. Melt together a tbsp of olive oil and a small slice of butter in another frying pan, and when it is hot and beginning to go gold, add the scallops. Sautee for two minutes on each side, until golden brown. Drain the linguine and toss with the vegetables and plenty of grated Parmesan, seasoning with a good grinding of black pepper. Serve in a large dish topped with scallops, alongside small bowls of spicy tomato sauce for people to add, and more Parmesan if desired.