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Try these weeknight seafood dishes

Many people reserve cooking seafood dishes for special occasions. If that sounds like you, consider this. Seafood is not only incredibly good for you, most seafood cooks quickly — making it perfect for busy weeknights when you might only have 20 to 30 minutes to pull dinner together.

I love sea scallops, but they are pricey. Instead of making them the main course, I usually allow two or three per person and have something less expensive as the main course — for example, shrimp or halibut.

There are several secrets to cooking scallops and the first one begins with your source. Don’t buy frozen sea scallops because their water content makes it almost impossible to get a good sear on them. Also, don’t buy sea scallops that are sitting in a bunch of liquid at the seafood counter — this means they have been frozen and probably treated with some sort of chemical. So, once you find a good source for scallops, remember they should be dry and smell slightly sweet and of the sea. Never buy seafood that smells fishy.

For best results, cook the scallops the day you purchase them. Carefully remove the raised white “foot” on the side of the scallop — it’s chewy. Some may not have the foot, but check to be sure. When you are ready to cook the scallops, have everything else ready to go.

Scallops take just a few minutes to cook and are best eaten right away.

Seared sea scallops with brown butter
1/2 pound sea scallops
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons chives, minced

Dry scallops and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add scallops and sear two to three minutes.

Turn and continue to cook another two minutes until golden. Remove scallops to a plate and loosely cover with foil. Add remaining butter and white wine.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allowing liquid to reduce a bit. Add scallops back into sauce and spoon sauce over scallops. Sprinkle with chives and serve.

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Pesto shrimp with pasta
2 dozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
2 cups fresh basil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

First, make the pesto. In a food processor, preferably a small one, add toasted walnuts, basil and garlic. Drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. For shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat.

Add shrimp in an even layer and cook two to three minutes per side until just cooked through.

Cook favorite pasta according to package directions. Toss hot pasta with pesto and top with cooked shrimp.

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Fish with white wine and herbs
4 (6 ounce) fish fillets (halibut, flounder or cod)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 zucchini, cut into matchsticks
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, and chives, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut four pieces of parchment paper into big squares. On each piece of parchment, place a piece of fish.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Top each fillet with some zucchini, carrots and green onions. Spoon a little white wine on top of each fillet and some fresh herbs.

Fold parchment paper, making a packet. Place packets on baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish fillets.

Carefully open packets, spooning sauce over fish and vegetables.