scallops

Seared Scallops with Porcini Mushroom Risotto

Before my parents left for a recent trip to Italy, they asked us what we wanted them to bring back. Immediately, my mind went in the direction of food. Olive oil, maybe? Could they grab all the cheese? Then my mom suggested leather gloves and we agreed that'd be a very useful gift (this was in February when the temps kept dropping and the snow piled high). We sent them off with drawings of our hands and they returned with stunning, lamb's wool-lined gloves. Of course, now it's 70 degrees and I'm sitting here wearing shorts and flip-flops, so we'll have to wait until the fall to bust them out. My mom was generous enough to also split a bag of dried porcini mushrooms she procured during their travels.  "They said it'd be great in a risotto." And as soon as she said it, I couldn't get it out of my head. That perfect spring-time dish... warm and hearty for those cooler nights. If you wanted to simplify the meal (and keep it vegetarian), the scallops can certainly be omitted, but I was craving seafood (ok, I'm always craving seafood) and that sweet ocean flavor meshed perfectly with the lemony risotto. 

SEARED SCALLOPS WITH PORCINI MUSHROOM RISOTTO

SERVINGS
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
3 1/2 cups boiling water
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound sea scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt
Black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Place porcini mushrooms in a large mixing bowl. Pour boiling water over mushrooms and soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Strain the liquid into a large pot. Chop mushrooms and set aside.

2. Add the vegetable broth to the same pot containing the mushroom liquid and set over medium-high heat. 

3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large sauce pan (or risotto pan) set over medium heat. Add the chopped shallot and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the garlic, thyme, and porcini mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes.  

4. Stir in the Arborio rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add the white wine and give it a stir. Cook until the wine is fully absorbed. 

5. Add the broth to the pan one ladle at a time, making sure to stir the risotto frequently. When the broth has been absorbed, add another. Continue with the remaining broth and cook risotto until it's tender. Once cooked, stir in peas. 

6. Mix the lemon zest and most of the Parmesan into the risotto.

7. Dry the sea scallops with paper towels.  Season with salt and pepper.

8. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter on high heat.  Once it begins to smoke, add the scallops and cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until it has browned on one side.  Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops.

9. Divide risotto into bowls. Top with scallops and garnish with more chopped parsley and lemon zest. 

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad
Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad
Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad
Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

One of the major differences between our old place and the new house is that we no longer have central A/C. So far, we've done pretty well... making sure to open all the windows at the end of the day as the temp cools and then closing them first thing in the morning. At this point, we do our best to avoid cooking indoors. It's hard to fathom turning on the oven when you're already sweating buckets.

Eric is usually the grill-master in our house, but once in a while, usually when I have a project that necessitates it, I'll get the thing going. Earlier this year, I was contacted by Frontier Natural Products Co-op to do some recipe development and photography for their "Grill the Goodness" campaign featuring their line of organic seafood seasonings. Since we're fully into grilling season, I hope you all enjoy these recipes. I'm fond of all of them, but these scallops, paired with a bright citrus, grilled romaine and avocado salad, is something I could eat every day and never get tired of it.

Once you make this, be sure to check out the other two recipes, Ginger and Honey Glazed Salmon and Grilled Blackened Shrimp, over at the Frontier website.

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad
Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

Blackened Scallops with Grilled Romaine + Citrus Salad

Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

For the grilled scallops

20-25 large sea scallops (approximately 3 lbs) 2 tablespoons Frontier Co-op’s Blackened Seafood Seasoning 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the grilled romaine salad

2 hearts of romaine, washed and dried 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon dried oregano ½ teaspoon salt ¼ teaspoon black pepper

For the dressing 1 orange, segmented 1 grapefruit, segmented 1 avocado, pit removed and sliced Juice of a lime 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced 1 teaspoon Kosher salt ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

1.Heat grill to medium-high heat.

2. Pat scallops dry and toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Coat with Blackened Seafood Seasoning.

3. In a bowl, whisk together 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, the red wine vinegar, dried oregano, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.

4. Cut the romaine hearts in half lengthwise and brush with vinaigrette.

5. Grill the romaine, cut side down, for two minutes, until it starts to brown. Flip and cook for another minute or two to get some color on it. Transfer to a plate.

6. Grill scallops for 3 minutes. Using tongs, flip the scallops and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, depending on the size of the scallops. Set them aside on a plate. Cooking scallops for a few minutes at high heat results in a seared outside and a soft, rare inside.

7. In a bowl, whisk together the honey, lime juice, cilantro, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper until combined.

8. To make the salad, plate each romaine wedge and top with citrus segments and sliced avocado. Drizzle dressing over salad.

9. Add 5 scallops to each plate next to the salad and serve.