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.
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.