A few Sundays ago, Anna and I found ourselves responsible for a Sunday dinner for five. Not knowing what to make, we headed to the farmer’s market for some direction. Like usual, I left the market with a big bunch of leeks peeking out of my bag. We decided on a spring vegetable risotto with scallops to go with Anna’s fantastic fava bean salad. The following recipe is inspired by a scallop and asparagus recipe from Gourmet April, 2007 and a risotto with calamari recipe from Gourmet March, 2009.
In general, I recommend buying your scallops fresh. If you’re budget-conscious like us, there are very affordable frozen scallops available at Trader Joe’s which are quite tasty. If you do opt for frozen scallops make sure you one, let them defrost completely and two, pat them very dry with a paper towel before sautéing. This insures they will get nice and browned. Also, do not move scallops in the pan until they are ready to be flipped. If moved too soon they won’t brown properly. How long it takes for your risotto to cook may depend on the pan you’re using and your heat source. Be sure to taste it as you’re cooking to make sure it’s not too al dente before serving. If you run out of broth you can always add more wine or water to continue cooking the risotto. This will be a hit. I promise.
Leek and Pea Risotto with Sautéed Scallops
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3lb large sea scallops, tough ligament removed from side of each if attached
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 2 teaspoons white-wine vinegar
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
For Leek and Pea Risotto
- 9 cups chicken broth
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced and washed
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Bring broth to a bare simmer in a large pot or saucepan, and then keep at a low simmer.
Cook leeks in 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add remaining tablespoon oil and rice to pot and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is coated evenly, about 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until most has been absorbed, about 1 minute.
Add 1 cup hot broth and simmer, stirring constantly, until broth has been absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next, until 1 cup stock is left, 18 to 25 minutes. Add peas, leeks, and remaining cup broth and cook, stirring, until rice is just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in butter and cheese, remove from heat.
When last cup of stock has been added to risotto, pat scallops dry and sprinkle with pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 1 tablespoon oil to 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté scallops, turning over only once, until browned and just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes total. Transfer scallops with spatula to clean plate. You may need to cook scallops in two batches if there’s not enough room in skillet.
Carefully add wine and vinegar to skillet (mixture may spatter) and boil, scraping up brown bits, until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Add any scallop juices accumulated on plate and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated.
Serve risotto topped with scallops and drizzle with sauce.