Monday, April 18, 2011

Seared Scallops with Spring Vegetable Risotto

I am going to begin this post with a bit of a warning, the recipe below is a bit labor intensive. I think the directions in the original recipe were a little hard to follow which may have been part of the problem. I am hoping that my directions below make a little more sense and make the preparation of the dish a little easier. The dish wasn't hard to make but it did require two cooks in the kitchen. If it had just been me cooking it might have been a little interesting.

That being said, I really loved the dish and thought that it was worth the time and effort. There are a lot of great flavors with the lemon, wine and the addition of the gremolata- which we forgot about at first but after we added it I thought the gremolata really made the dish. The risotto paired perfectly with the seared scallops but you could easily substitute chicken or shrimp or not mess with a protein at all.

Seared Scallops with Spring Vegetable Risotto
** adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Light and Healthy
 print recipe

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 T. minced fresh parsley, stems reserved
2 T. minced fresh mint, stems reserved
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and reserved, spears cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound leeks, greens reserved, white and green parts halved lengthwise, sliced thin and rinsed
4 c. low sodium vegetable broth
3 c. water
1 T. oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T. butter
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 pound (about 8) fresh large scallops, patted dry to remove any moisture
salt and pepper

Combine the parsley, mint, and lemon zest in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine broth and water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Chop the tough asparagus ends and leek greens into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the broth, along with the reserved mint and parsley stems, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus spears that have been cut on the bias, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, stirring often until crisp-tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add the frozen peas, and continue to cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

Next, in a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the leeks, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Strain the broth, discarding the solids. Set over low heat and cover to keep warm.

Add the rice to the leek mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the ends of the kernels are transparent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, and cook, stirring often, until it has been absorbed, another 3 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of broth and continue to simmer, stirring every few minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup more broth every few minutes as needed to keep the bottom of the pan from drying out. Continue to cook, stirring often until rice is al dente, about 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a medium size skillet over high heat and add a bit of butter or oil. Add the scallops, about four at a time to avoid crowding, to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove scallops and repeat with remaining scallops.

Remove risotto from heat, and vigorously stir in the cheese, butter and lemon juice, then gently fold in the reserved asparagus and peas. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve served with seared scallops on top and garnished with gremolata.

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