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Marc Deaton’s Seafood Medley is a great way to celebrate al fresco on a moonlit evening in the spring. (Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Keep a close eye on the seafood when cooking it, to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked. (Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source | Buy This Photo)
Pasta Two Ways is a great accompaniment to the Seafood Medley. (Photo by Pem McNerney/The Source | Buy This Photo)
On a nearly perfect spring night recently the sun took a bow with a gorgeous sunset, letting the Worm moon take center stage against a foggy backdrop, while Marc, John, Wayne, and I celebrated my friend Deb’s birthday with an al fresco backyard feast.
I brought pasta two ways. One batch was dressed while still warm with Marc’s pesto, which was leftover from last summer and waiting patiently in his freezer. The other pasta, another 12-ounce box, was tossed while still warm with the juice and zest of two lemons, about two to three tablespoons of really good butter, about ¼- to ½ cup Asiago cheese, then finished with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and Aleppo-style pepper to taste. I plated the two batches of spaghetti with tongs, side by side, in a huge bowl. We served it with a chunk of great Parmesan from Madison Cheese Shop, and a grater, on the side.
The pièce de résistance of the night was Marc’s simple but spectacular seafood with vegetables. A medley of seafood, vegetables, mushrooms, capers, and olives lightly dressed with olive oil and lemon, the star of the platter was the delicious pink Stonington shrimp from Saybrook Seafood in Old Saybrook.
Dinner conversation ranged from the upcoming season at Madison Lyric Stage, where Marc is the artistic director and John is the executive director, to the roller coaster that was this past year. Then we put the birthday tiara atop Deb’s head (yes, our neighborhood has a birthday tiara, because every neighborhood should have at least one), and sang her happy birthday while the candles burned atop a delicious cake from Dagmar’s Desserts, also in Old Saybrook.
We had a lot to celebrate, mostly Deb’s birthday, but also that Madison Lyric Stage has survived, is going strong, and is planning an outdoor season. Most of our favorite local shops have survived, including Madison Cheese Shop, Saybrook Seafood, and Dagmar’s. And we have survived, and plan to continue being careful with masks and social distancing because no way are we stumbling this close to the finish line.
What a year it was. Here’s looking forward to a fabulous spring and summer. Here’s Marc’s recipe in case you have something to celebrate, big or small.
Marc Deaton’s Seafood with Vegetables
Serves 6 to 8
1 ½ pounds scallops
1 ½ pounds uncooked large shrimp
5- to 7 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced
½ cup good white wine
2 to 3 cloves garlic, diced or thinly sliced
1 quart cherry tomatoes
Capers, to taste
A handful or two of green and
Kalamata olives, pitted
6 to 8 small Italian peppers, cleaned and
thinly sliced lengthwise
1 bunch scallions, both white and
green parts thinly sliced
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Paprika, salt, pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking,
plus more for dressing as needed
Juice and zest from 1 lemon,
to dress final dish as needed
Basil leaves to finish
1. Clean shrimp. Remove side segment from scallops. Rinse seafood and set aside.
2. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until they have released their moisture. Add white wine and garlic; cook briefly.
3. Add in shrimp and scallops. As they turn white and cook through, add cherry tomatoes, capers, olives, sliced Italian peppers, and scallions, stirring constantly, and making sure seafood stays deep in the pan. This will probably take about 5 to 6 minutes, depending on the size of the shrimp and scallops. Keep a close eye on them and make sure they don’t get overcooked.
4. Add parsley, sliced lemon, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add more olive oil and lemon if needed.
5. Arrange on a platter, adding multiple whole fresh basil leaves as garnish.
6. Serve while still just warm. Enjoy!