Three days after celebrating crabmeat, we honor another delicious seafood: March 12 is Baked Scallops Day! Scallops have long been a personal fave of mine (much like crab), so this has been a fun past few days.
Scallops are characterized by a brightly colored, fan-shaped shell. The word comes from the French escalope, which means “shell.” It doesn’t get much more literal than that. Scallops symbolize female fertility; many paintings of the goddess Venus include a scallop shell to help identify her. The scallop shell also symbolizes the setting sun, and Greedy Ass Big Oil Conglomerates (it is the logo for Shell). But we’ll overlook that, since the meat is so damn tasty. Scallops are considered a delicacy around much of the world, prized for their mild, sweet flavor and nutritious properties. In the U.S., we generally eat the abductor muscle, the white and meaty part of the scallop. In other parts of the world, scallops are eaten whole (though presumably this does not include the shell). Scallops are broken down into two different categories: bay scallops and sea scallops. The main difference is in the size; sea scallops are considerably larger, making them a better choice for pan searing. Scallop season runs from November to March, but frozen scallops are available year-round.
I picked up some sea scallops from the seafood counter at Fred Meyer after work. They were $18.99 a pound, which is just a tad pricey, so I asked for 1/2 a pound. Chuckled when I ended up with a whopping 4 scallops. But there are four of us this week, since I’ve got my kids, so I simply baked the scallops as an appetizer, and we had fish (cod) for dinner. The recipe was pretty simple and, as you might guess, delicious!
When it comes to stuffed pasta, tortellini ranks right up there in my top three! Right behind ravioli, but ahead of manicotti. Then again, there are really only those three varieties of stuffed pasta in the first place. Technicalities aside, Happy National Tortellini Day!
Tortellini has a sensual history; it is rumored to be the creation of a Peeping Tom. Lucrezia Borgia, the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI, was a stunning beauty with long blonde hair, hazel eyes, and an ample bosom. One night she checked into an inn in Modena, Italy. The host was so entranced by her beauty that he spied on her through the keyhole to her room, where he caught a glimpse of her navel. Captivated by the sight, he created a pasta shaped like her belly button that very night, and to this day tortellini is also known as umbellico (“belly button”). No word on whether the pervert served the dish with two ripe cantaloupes. Others say it was the goddess Venus’s navel that inspired the dish. An alternate theory claims that tortellini represent turtles, which decorated many of the buildings in 17th-century Modena. The Bolognese, on the other hand, say these stories are bunk, and that tortellini originated in their fair burg. These guys are so hardcore about the pasta, they created the Learned Order of Tortellini, a secret group based in Bologna that is dedicated to the preservation of the pasta. During their gatherings members wear red and gold hats shaped like tortellini and ribbon necklaces adorned with a gold tortellini. Members do not speak a word until after finishing a meal of tortellini in broth. (I know I tend to joke around a lot on this blog, but I am not making this shit up, I swear!). And we poke fun at Green Bay Packers fans for wearing cheese-shaped hats on their heads…
Regardless of where it came from and what it represents, tortellini are delicious! Tara and I were looking forward to today’s challenge. And to be honest, there wasn’t anything “challenging” about it, thanks to a package of refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini and a jar of pasta sauce.
- National tortellini day (eatocracy.cnn.com)
- Easy Baked Tortellini (thelindenchronicles.wordpress.com)