Re-creating flavor of Mediterranean

Delicacy: Scallops prepared with red wine and served over fettuccine make a mouthwatering dish.

February 10, 1999|By Bev Bennett | Bev Bennett,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Ever read food articles in which the writer is extolling the fresh, briny taste of some freshly caught seafood?

These stories always make my mouth water. The writer, of course, is sitting in a cafe, overlooking a waterfront. The delicacy practically jumps from the net onto his plate. The waiter brings the perfect wine, costing pennies, and the writer is blissed out. The scene is set in the south of Spain, Portugal or France. It certainly isn't in the parking lot of your supermarket.

No matter what the quality of your fish counter, it isn't nearly as romantic. However, you can still create a recipe that captures some of the robust flavor of a Mediterranean catch.

Start with a gutsy sauce of tomatoes, red wine, piquant olives and capers. Add scallops or a firm fish such as halibut and cut it into bite-size pieces. Whatever fish you choose, add it during the last five minutes of cooking, so it doesn't get tough.

If you want an Italian accent to your fantasy, toss the finished seafood with fettuccine. If you prefer a French note, serve the dish with crusty bread. Or you can simply pour the concoction into a bowl and call it a Portuguese seafood stew.

Scallops Over Fettuccine

Serves 2

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black peppercorns

8 ounces sea scallops

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium shallot, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons small capers

1/4 cup sliced, pitted green olives

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid

1/4 cup dry red wine

1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried oregano

dash crushed red pepper flakes

salt, freshly ground pepper

6 ounces cooked fettuccine

Sprinkle peppercorns on dinner plate. Add scallops and press peppercorns into scallops on both sides. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Set aside 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium skillet. Add scallops and saute over medium heat until browned outside and still slightly translucent inside, about 4 minutes per side. Remove scallops and set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add shallot and garlic and saute over medium heat 1 minute. Stir in capers, olives, tomatoes, wine, oregano and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil. Cook over high heat until sauce is slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add scallops and heat through, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon fettuccine into serving bowl. Top with scallop mixture. Serve immediately.

Pub Date: 02/10/99

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