This recipe was inspired by Ed Giobbi, author of Italian Family Cooking (Random House, 1971). Today in many homes with an Italian Catholic heritage, Christmas Eve is celebrated with one long, delicious and meatless dinner party.

Scallops with Pesto (Cappesante el Pesto) Scallops with Pesto
The garlicky pesto is a perfect match for sweet, silky scallops.
Yield: serves 8


  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • Salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 12 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 large sea scallops, muscles removed
  • 2 tbsp. butter


  1. Pulse pine nuts and 1⁄2 tsp. salt together in a food processor until finely ground. Add garlic and basil and, with the motor running, drizzle in olive oil. Add parmigiano-reggiano and process into a smooth paste. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat, then add butter. When butter begins to brown, add scallops and sear until golden, 1 1⁄2-2 minutes. Turn scallops and cook until opaque, 1 1⁄2-2 minutes more. Spoon pesto onto 8 plates, then set 3 scallops in pesto on each plate.