Youngest Hawthorne's all-time favorite meal is seared scallops on a bed of risotto, made with sun-dried tomatoes and spinach, and pesto, caramelized onions, and a Parmesan crisp. Since I have scallops today, I offered to make this for the Hawthornelets, but I'm changing the risotto since I had no spinach on hand. First, the Parmesan crisps.
I baked these at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, since they can go south on you pretty quickly at the end. Remove with a thin bladed spatula and let crisp up and cool. If you wanted Parmesan Frico Cups, then immediately remove the Parmesan rounds and place on inverted muffin tins or cups, using a paper towel to press around the Parmesan to shape it and to absorb excess oil. On to the lovely basil.
I went out to my garden and picked bunches of basil. If you're going to make pesto, might as well make a big batch of it. What I don't use with the scallops, I'll freeze in ice-cube trays, then pop the cubes into freezer bags.
Rosie's Pesto 8 cups loosely packed basil 8 garlic cloves 2 cups pecans 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese 1 1/2 cups ELBOO - that's Extra Light Bertolli Olive Oil salt and pepper
And you end up with this heavenly product. Next up, risotto. Youngest Hawthorne likes his risotto with spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, but I'm going another route since I don't have spinach on hand. I'm going with peas, mint, and lemon flavors.
Rosie's Risotto 2 TB butter 1 TB light olive oil 1 cup arborio rice 3 cups chicken stock 1 cup white wine 1 onion 2 cups peas 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated zest and juice of 2 lemons 1 TB chopped mint leaves What is arborio rice you ask? Arborio rice is a variety of short-grained rice named after the Italian town of Arborio in the Po Valley where it was originally grown. Today it is cultivated in both Texas and California. It is the traditional choice for the classical preparation of risotto. Arborio is a short, fat, slightly oval shaped rice with a pearly white exterior. Because it undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, it retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases the starch, thus giving risotto its creamy consistency.
I heated up my pan, added LOLUB (Land o' Lakes Unsalted Butter) and ELBOO (Extra Light Bertoli Olive Oil), then poured in my rice and cooked in the butter and oil for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Slowly, pour in some of the chicken stock. I pour in about 1/4 - 1/2 cup of liquid at a time. Stir, letting the rice absorb the liquid before adding in more liquid.
Cup of white wine went in next. (1/4 - 1/2 cup at a time.) Stir and let the rice absorb the liquid. Total stirring and cooking time - approximately 30 minutes. You want arborio slightly al dente.
I love a good risotto and this was a good risotto. Very creamy. I love green peas, so that was a nice addition and the mint and lemon accents made this a light and flavorful dish. Now, I'm ready to start on the scallops.
Heat your skillet, add a tablespoon of LOLUB and a tablespoon of ELBOO, pepper the scallops, and add them to the pan.
Avoid the inclination to poke the scallops and move them around. Leave the scallops alone. They'll release on their own.
I deglazed the pan with a bit of sherry and chicken stock. You could use white wine, if you're not fond of sherry.
Scrape up all the goody bits. And now I'm ready to plate for the Hawthornelets and their little friends, who somehow always seem to show up at a meal time. I wonder why that is.
Here's Youngest Hawthorne's plate. He specifically asked for 5 scallops and he got them. He didn't fail to inform me I'd forgotten the caramelized onions I usually make with this dish. I do not think the dish suffered by the omission.
This really is a delightful dish. The brightness of the pesto works very well with sweet scallops. The creaminess of the rice, highlighted by the hint of mint and lemon and sweet peas is a nice background to the whole. The crunchiness and saltiness of the Parmesan crisp complements the creaminess of the rice and the sweetness of the scallops.