Parsley Mint Pesto with Seared Scallops

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This is one of my favorite recipes when I want a quick healthy dinner. Scallops are really high in protein and are quite easy to cook once you get the hang of it. See this post for more detailed information if you’ve never cooked scallops before and for tips on how to use frozen scallops.

While you can serve this with whatever vegetables you want, I served this with a thick spiralized zucchini and summer squash and dinosaur kale. I like this variety of kale because it is a little less tough and bitter and sautes quickly- it’s like a hybrid between spinach and kale.

Some key notes to this pesto:

  1. Be flexible on what herbs you use! This would work well with basil or cilantro too. Parsley and mint is what I had on hand, and I didn’t want to waste them.

  2. Same goes for the nuts- you could easily sub in walnuts here if you don’t have pine nuts.

  3. Make it easy on yourself- I buy pre-peeled garlic and parmesan that was already grated.

  4. YOU CAN FREEZE THIS! See below for more on this.

I hate making a big batch and feeling like I have to eat pesto for the next two weeks to make it worth it. I tested out freezing this in a small ice cube tray which worked so well! Then you can have homemade pesto whenever you want. The molds in the one I got (see below; I got it for about $4 at Ace Hardware) are actually a bit smaller than a typical ice cube, which I like because they defrost quicker. Just put the pesto in the molds and once they are frozen, place them in a bag in the freezer (While I’m not an expert on how long it lasts, I’d use this within two months or so). Just place the pesto in the pan when sautéing to defrost.

Parsley Mint Pesto
Makes about 3/4 cup (about 8 servings worth or so)

  • 1 ounce fresh parsley (about 3/4 of a bunch)

  • 1/2 ounce fresh mint

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) pine nuts

  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated parmesan

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup nice extra virgin olive oil (see below for why this isn’t exact!)

Place parsley and mint in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and sea salt and process again until pine nuts are ground completely. You may have to stop once or twice to push down the mixture if it starts sticking to the sides.

With processor running, begin to add olive oil. This is going to be a bit of a personal preference for how thick you want the pesto to be (and what you are using it for). I recommend starting with 1/4, checking to see the consistency, and then adding slowly and checking until you get the consistency you want.

Seared Scallops & Sautéed Zucchini & Kale
See this post for more detailed information if you’ve never cooked scallops before.
Serves 2

  • 1/2 pound scallops

  • 1 zucchini or 1 summer squash, spiralized

  • 2 large handfuls of dinosaur kale

  • 1.5 tablespoons Trader Joe’s seasoned buffalo ghee (seriously- it adds a ton of flavor and is really good!)- you can also use regular ghee or butter though

  • sea salt and pepper

Place a heavier saute pan (I will use my cast iron one for this) over medium-high heat. Add in a tablespoon of ghee- there should be enough to lightly coat the entire bottom of the pan. Once quite hot, add in scallops- it should sizzle immediately (but not smoke- if it’s smoking it’s too hot). Let scallops sit until brown on one side, about 3 minutes- you only want to flip once if you can. Flip, season with salt and pepper and let sit for about 2-3 minutes on the other side until also brown and the entire scallop has turned from translucent to opaque.

If serving with veggies (like zucchini)- saute veggies in a separate pan next to scallops so you can serve everything at once.

Sautéed the kale first for a few minutes first (because it takes longer to cook) in about 1/2 tablespoon ghee and salt and then place the spiralized zucchini in the pan for the last minute or two. This will give make the zucchini warm while still keeping the texture.

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