Sometimes figuring out what to make for dinner can be quite the challenge.
You see, I have this terrible problem of never knowing exactly what I want. Then, when I think I have it all figured out…BAM!…it changes, and doesn’t sound interesting anymore. (Haha! Kind of like my career-path, now that I think about it. I never could decide exactly what it was that I wanted to be…).
So today, like most days, I wandered off to the supermarket to buy ingredients for an Indian-inspired dish using scallops. Small problem. I didn’t really feel like eating Indian.
I wanted something flavorful, but not spicy. Something that was both hearty and filling. I wanted to eat out!
I knew Piyush would not be happy if I told him I wanted to go out tonight, especially because our refrigerator was well stocked and I had just spent a small fortune on fresh scallops. So I opened up the pantry doors and hoped for a little inspiration.
And then I saw it. A big jar of arborio rice, sitting right in front of me. I decided to try my hand at making risotto.
I’ve never attempted to make risotto before, and have actually only tried it once. I remembered it being a little crunchy and dry and I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, really.
But now that the idea was in my head, I had to have risotto. And I had to have it now. That’s just how I am, I guess.
After searching online and getting a little inspiration from Gordon Ramsay, random youtube people and the lovely Angela @ Madame Croquette (truthfully it was probably reading her post on saffron risotto with tiger prawns that sparked tonight’s dinner), I got to work.
I found a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded like it would taste spectacular (It did!)–and I had all the ingredients on hand. From start to finish, making the risotto took about a half hour–with at least 25 of those minutes spent stirring the rice. It was tedious, but zen-like at the same time. I liked it.
Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the risotto making process. It really is a process, and I was too involved with stirring (and day-dreaming) to even think about clicking photos. Sorry!
I’ll pass on a little risotto-makin’ knowledge though…
First, make sure you have all your stuff ready. Usually I run around like a crazy person, digging through cupboards and raiding the refrigerator; but this time I had everything pre-chopped and pre-measured. I think this was the biggest contributor to my risotto success!
Second, make sure to taste your rice as you cook. Each time I tossed in a ladle of stock, I tried a grain or two of the rice. You don’t want it to be crunchy, but it shouldn’t be mushy either. Aim for your rice to be cooked al dente. A little “bite” is a good thing!
Once the risotto was finished, I set it aside and got started on the scallops. I learned to cook scallops last year, and I’ve got to tell you…it’s simple! They look intimidating…but looks are deceiving! I really have no idea how all those cooks on the “reality” cooking shows can screw them up. Honestly. It’s crazy.
One thing I love about scallops is that they cook really, really fast–which make them an ideal match for risotto (you don’t want the risotto to go cold). On the other hand, one thing I hate about scallops is that they stink up your house. Completely.
To cook the scallops I used a non-stick pan. I usually always use my cast iron pan, but I was feeling lazy and I didn’t want to have to scrub it out when I was done. The non-stick pan gave a nice sear, but I really think I get a much better color on the scallops when I use the cast iron pan.
You win some. You lose some.
I tossed a tablespoon–or so–of olive oil in the pan and waited for it to get hot. Real hot. That’s important. Then, I placed the scallops–which I generously seasoned with salt and pepper– in the pan and let them cook for a minute or so before flipping. After flipping, I let them cook for another 30 seconds before tossing in a “butter bomb.”
The butter bomb is simply a pat of butter (about 1 1/2 tbsp–give or take) with fresh herbs stuck into it. I toss it right in and let the butter brown up. It adds a delicious nutty flavor to the scallops.
After the scallops get “bombed,” they really only take about a minute longer to fully cook through. Watch them closely, scallops are very easy to overcook; and nobody likes rubbery scallops! It’s much better to have them slightly underdone.
This dinner was fantastic! I think risotto might be my new favorite thing. Seriously.
It’s weird, but for some reason it really reminded me of macaroni and cheese. It must have been the creaminess or how comforting the dish is, I don’t know. It didn’t taste like macaroni and cheese…
I’m so excited to try other variations. In fact, I was thinking I’d find a way to “Indianize” it…
Until then, I’ll leave you with this recipe!
Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto
Makes approximately 8 servings — 1/2 c. each (each serving is around 210 calories)
Recipe adapted and modified from Cooking Light
Ingredients for Risotto:
Directions for Risotto:
Ingredients for Scallops:
(increase as needed for more servings. This will make 2 servings of 3 scallops each)
Directions for Scallops: