Corn 'milk' a sweet addition to scallop pasta dish

By Susan M. Selasky

Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 14 2012 6:26 p.m. MDT

Fresh scallops top fresh corn and bell peppers

Jessica J. Trevino, Mct

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Sweet corn season is just about in full swing. And let's hope it keeps rolling along. Today's recipe caught my eye for several reasons, mainly because it calls for sea scallops, one of my favorites.

But I also don't tend to think of adding corn to dishes with long pasta like linguine and fettuccine. This recipe uses the corn and the corn "milk" scraped from the cob in the sauce, adding a bit of sweetness.

Extracting the milk from the cob is a simple process of pressing the dull side of a knife into the cob — after you've removed most of the kernels — as you move it down , end to end, to get the last bits of corn and liquid.

Sweet, luscious sea scallops are perfect for serving two. You'll find them at fish counters anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter.

Fresh scallops should smell sweet, not fishy. Choose large scallops that are creamy or light beige. If they are super white, chances are they were treated with a preservative to extend their shelf life, but that makes them absorb moisture and increase their weight. Or look for scallops labeled "dry," which means they have not been soaked. Often these are sold frozen.

Before cooking scallops, pat them thoroughly dry (even the dry-packed ones). If you don't, they will release moisture and steam in the pan instead of getting that nicely browned, crisp crust. Pan-searing is one of the best cooking methods because scallops cook so quickly.

SCALLOPS WITH FRESH CORN AND BELL PEPPERS

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 45 minutes

Divide the recipe in half for two servings.

8 ounces whole-wheat or regular linguine or favorite long pasta

4 medium ears corn, husked

2 strips bacon, chopped

1 pound dry sea scallops, patted dry

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

5 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken broth

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish

4 lemon wedges

Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid; drain the pasta.

Stand an ear of corn on its stem end in a shallow bowl and slice the kernels off with a knife. Then press the dull side of the knife down the length of the ear to extract any remaining kernels and corn "milk" into the bowl. Repeat with the remaining corn.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a small bowl; leave the bacon fat in the pan.

Sprinkle scallops with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Add scallops to the pan and cook over medium heat until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

Add the corn kernels and corn milk, bell pepper and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved cooking liquid and wine or broth and continue cooking until the corn is tender, about 3 minutes more. Stir in sour cream and remaining ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over the mixture. Cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to low and return the pasta, bacon and any scallop liquid accumulated on the plate to the pan; toss to coat with the sauce. Stir in basil. Divide the pasta among bowls and top with the scallops. Garnish with more basil and serve with lemon wedges.

— adapted from Eating Well magazine, July/August 2012 issue and tested by Susan M. Selasky

Nutritional information: 473 calories (15 percent from fat), 8 grams fat (3 grams sat. fat), 73 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 844 mg sodium, 42 mg cholesterol, 10 grams fiber.