2.13.2016

The Winter Grill

One of the nicest things about living in the desert is that we can grill with ease all year long.

Not to say that people in the frozen north don't grill all year long; it's just not easy.

First, you have to shovel the path to the grill. Then you have to shovel off the grill. Then you light the fire, and go back inside to get warm. Oh... wait. You then still need to go back out into the cold to grill the food.

Boots on. Boots off. Sweaters. Scarves. Gloves. Coats. Hats.

It's not so bad here, and we know it. We are fortunate.

Today's pasta dish is one we came up with in Maine when our friends Xanthi and Dan came to dinner one night.

Though we didn't have an outdoor grill then, we did have a grill in the kitchen fireplace, on which we often cooked in the winter. (Much better than shoveling, etc.)

It was a cold and snowy evening, and we decided to eat in the kitchen by the fireside. And, while we were there, why not cook on the fire?

I tossed scallops, shrimp, whole cherry tomatoes, and some roughly chopped shallots with sambal oelek, olive oil, lemon juice, Mexican oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper. I let it marinate until the fire was just right, and the pasta was almost cooked.

Grilled in a seafood basked over the wood fire, I don't think I had tasted anything as wonderful as this in years. We tossed the grilled seafood and tomatoes with the pasta, added a wee bit of the pasta water, and dinner was ready.

The warmth of the fire combined with good food and the best of friends really took the chill of a cold and snowy winter's eve.

~ David

Orzo with Grilled Scallops and Shrimp

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound sea scallops, quartered if large
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
3 large shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of a lemon
2 teaspoons sambal oelek, or other chile sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt & pepper, to taste
12 ounces orzo pasta
springs of fresh oregano, optional

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Prepare your grill; whether you have a charcoal grill or gas grill, you want a very hot fire. Place a seafood basket over the coals/on the grill.

Salt the boiling water well and add the orzo. Cook for about 12 minutes.

Toss the shrimp, scallops, tomatoes, and shallots with the olive oil, lemon juice, sambal oelek, oregano, and thyme. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Let marinate while the pasta is cooking.

When pasta has 3-4 minutes to go, toss the seafood mixture into the preheated seafood basket and grill, stirring frequently, over the highest heat for 3-4 minutes.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 cup of the pasta water, and toss the pasta with the grilled seafood. Add the pasta water and a thread of olive oil. Toss again, and serve with springs of fresh oregano.

Serves 4.


39 comments:

  1. Growing up, fish and chips was the seafood I ate most. My family in Italy lived more inland so there wasn't much seafood in my mother's family either, but recently I've been venturing and enjoying seafood more and more (in fact, I had pasta with clams last night.) I know this recipe is something I'd really love. Now I'm hungry for more seafood!!

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    1. Glad to know you are enjoying seafood more, Christina - it is really so wonderful!

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  2. Beautiful, David. Polar opposites at present... we are sitting in a cabin with ocean views... eating prawns (shrimp). Snap!

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    1. Well, Liz - when I wrote this it was cold, but today it was 90°F (32°C)! Not a problem for us! :)

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  3. Really beautiful dish, and quite jealous about your grill! We don't have any outdoor space currently, so grilling for us is not an option at all, unfortunately. Luckily we eat with our eyes too :)

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    1. Thanks, Paolo. We love being able to grill year-round. When you come visit, we will grill for sure!

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  4. I love everything about this, David. Scallops and prawns are two of my favourite seafoods. Especially when they're grilled. I don't think I've seen multicoloured orzo before, as well, and you've reminded me I still have a bag of scallops in the freezer.

    I can't stop staring at your second-last photo. Not only is it gorgeous, but I swear I can smell everything in that bowl!

    I cooked with Mexican oregano today, actually, as I made a salsa rioja to go with the huarache I spent all morning making from scratch. I wish my local spice guy would import the oregano with all the other Mexican things he gets into his store, otherwise I wouldn't have to ration as much as I have been! I may have to have a word with him!

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    1. They are two of my favorites, too, John. I can't get enough of them! The multicolored orzo came from our farmers market - wish it tasted different from the plan orzo! That photo is probably one of my favorites, too. Thanks for the snaps.

      I will write to you via email, but if you are running low on Mexican oregano, I know a source... :)

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  5. Almost smell it. My god I really need a vacation to enjoy the real grill out there. As Christina says tired of fish and chips.

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    1. Thanks, Cindy! Yes, I can imagine fish & chips could grow old pretty fast.

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  6. This sounds like something we could do, once the weather warms up! Currently this is the coldest Valentine's Day we have had since before Sputnik went into space.

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    1. You can definitely do this, Carol. We have been watching your weather - have had a glorious day here!

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  7. David, I wanted to email you but couldn't find an email address. When you left a comment on my blog (thank you!) I clicked on the Cocoa and Lavender link and it did not go to your blog! It went to your Blogger profile which didn't have a link to your blog. I wanted my readers to be able to visit your wonderful site, so I put your URL in my reply. Thought you'd want to know about this so you can fix it. Wishing you all the best, Jean

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    1. Jean - thank you so much for telling me that. One thing that never occurred to me is that because we have two Google profiles (Cocoa & Lavender and Cocoa & Beans - long story), there was never any profile on Cocoa & Lavender. There is now, thanks to you. Thanks - and congrats again on six years!

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  8. No fireplace anymore but I do have a nice shiny grill. Your pasta and seafood sounds wonderful.

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  9. This looks wonderful! I should take advantage of our grill more in the off-seasons - it's just right there on the deck. I love grilled seafood!

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    1. Those of us in the south are lucky to be able easily to grill year round! Funny thing - met new neighbors today - Mike and Caroline! :)

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  10. Looks wonderful! This one is a keeper.

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  11. A wonderful dish, David. Grilling does so much to improve the flavor of an ingredient, especially seafood. Combining them like you did sounds fantastic. I am one of those people who grill year-round, though I never have to shovel a path. My grill is right outside my kitchen door on the back porch. Granted, the only thing my experience has in common with yours is the fire, it is still far better than that of most of my neighbors. Now, if only I could remember where I put that seafood basket ...

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    1. Glad you have easy access to your grill, John - and a warm fire! We use our seafood basket so much - I don't know how we lived without it. (Yes, I do - a lot of things fell through the grill...)

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  12. Hi David, my husband loves grilling and I love it too as it gives me a break. Grilling always brings out the best. Beautiful dish, will have to look for rainbow orzo.

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    1. Thanks, Cheri - the orzo is from Papparadelle's, the pasta shop that seems to be popping up at farmers markets in the west.

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  13. I love the multi colored orzo, it goes well with the dish you created. Grilling seafood does bring out the flavors.

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    1. Gerlinde - the sweetness of the seafood is what amazes me when it is grilled!

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  14. Yea, we do traipse out to the grill in the winter although we have not ever ventured out in these temperatures (sub-zero, not counting wind chill!). This easy, delicious-sounding recipe could propell Towny out there though!

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    1. I remember him grilling in a snowstorm one night... he is a brave man, Susan!

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    2. It proelled Towny to consider venturing outside but in the end, he turned on the broiler and we made this dish...I know it would be even better with grilled scallops and shrimp but it was excellent from the broiler!

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    3. Broiling is fine - even pan-frying! But the grilled version is sublime!

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  15. Gorgeous meal for gorgeous weather. GREG

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  16. I want some of this! Though I must tell you that, unless it is brutally cold, the coat does not always go on for a quick run out to the grill (over 40 maybe not even the shoes).

    But even more than easy grill access, you are blessed all of those fresh herbs. We have only what we paid outrageous prices for at the grocery or tiny snippets of things we've coaxed into living in a sunny window. Ah, spring will come...

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    1. We were the same in Maine, Inger! Tough Yankees! Now, not so much! Yes, the fresh herbs are such a gift all year round. But spring is around the corner, and your herbs will be showing life before you know it!

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  17. Oooooh, I already know I love this recipe! I know it's a keeper. Beautiful dish :)

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    1. Thanks, Marcelle - and, with you being in Texas, grilling should not be a problem!

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