The last few weeks I have been traveling for work and putting crazy hours in. Last weekend was my first weekend off in three weeks and I just wanted to hang out at home and relax. We planned a “date night” at home on Friday night and I really wanted to try something a little fancier than what I make on weeknights. Think fine dining-esque.
We thought about it all day on Friday and browsed through a few cookbooks. We finally landed on sea scallops. One of my very favorite things to order in nice restaurants is seared sea scallops over risotto. So off I went to Whole Foods after work with a mission of creating a delicious scallop dish.
I ended up with six beautiful sea scallops, fresh spinach and prosciutto de parma. When I got home I turned to my trusty Joy of Cooking (seriously, if you do not own a copy – buy one! most useful cookbook ever!) and used their “Simplest Risotto” for my risotto.
I loosely followed a recipe from The Newlyweds Cookbook for the scallops. I finished it all off with wilted spinach and a balsamic reduction.
This is a great special occasion recipe. I was really, really pleased with how it came out. The scallops were a cinch and the risotto…well…risotto is a labor of love. You have to commit to stirring (a good job to assign the man)! I highly recommend you give this a try if you’re looking for a special Valentine’s day dinner (or any date-worthy occasion).
(Recipe source Joy of Cooking)
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups Italian rice
1/2 cup white wine (can sub chicken stock)
1 tbsp butter
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and ground pepper, to taste
Melt butter or heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook over low heat until soft and translucent but not browned, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, simmer the chicken stock over medium heat.
Increase the heat on the onions to medium and stir in the rice. Using broad strokes, stir the rice until it looks chalky and you can see a white dot in the center of each grain, about three minutes.
Stir in white wine and continue stirring to prevent sticking until all wine has been absorbed. Then start stirring in the stock, 1 cup at a time. Each cup must be absorbed before the next is added. Stir the risotto continuously to prevent sticking. When 6 cups of stock have been absorbed, add the stock 1/2 cup at a time and start tasting the rice. It should be tender but still a little firm to the bite, not mushy.
Take the risotto off the heat when the rice still has a little more resistance than you’d like and fold in butter and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and ground black pepper.
Let risotto stand for a moment and then serve immediately.
Seared Scallops with Crispy Prosciutto
(Adapted from The Newlyweds Cookbook)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
6-8 sea scallops (3 or 4 per person)
8 slices prosciutto, roughly chopped
1 bag of baby spinach, optional
salt and pepper
Heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium to medium high heat in a medium saute pan. Add prosciutto and saute until crispy, 3-4 minutes. Make sure to have the exhaust fan on, the prosciutto will smoke. Drain on a plate line with paper towels.
Wipe out pan and heat another 1-2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat . Season scallops with salt and pepper and add to hot skillet. Sear 2-3 minutes per side (cooking time will vary depending on the size of your scallops). They should be golden on both sides.
When you remove the scallops from the pan you can throw a bag of spinach in the leftover olive oil and heat until lightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp brown sugar, to taste
Bring vinegar to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer until it’s reduced by about 1/2. Add in the sugar and let simmer until thickened. Remove from heat. Will thicken more as it cools. Watch the mixture carefully to prevent scorching while simmering.
To plate everything…
Place risotto and spinach on plate side-by-side. Arrange scallops on overlap between spinach and risotto. Sprinkle with crispy prosciutto. Drizzle with balsamic reduction.