Just because Summer is about to be over doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to seafood. I love this dish because it’s the best of both worlds and I feel fits perfect in that not quite summer, but not quite fall season transition. The sweetness of the scallops complements the richness of the pumpkin and spinach risotto. Also, don’t be intimidated by cooking the scallops or the risotto. It’s not as hard as you think.
I remember being so intimidated the first time I cooked both my first scallop and my first risotto. I had watched way too many episodes of Hell’s kitchen and I knew that those two things tended to get people kicked out of the kitchen. However, once I overcame my own inner abusive Gordon Ramsey, I realized that I had built the fear of cooking these up to be way more than it actually is. As someone who is largely a completely self-taught home cook, if I can do it anyone can do it.
Also, if you’re trying to justify buying scallops in your head let me help you. Right now, people can’t really go to restaurants like we use to. I mean you can, but it’s not the same as the pre-COVID days. If you order a scallop dish there, you’re bound to be not only overcharged but you also have to worry about tip and tax plus drinks and desserts. When you learn how to cook scallops at home you’re only paying for the raw material of the scallop and cutting all that other stuff out. Having the ability to cook gourmet meals at home gives you the freedom to enjoy the food without necessarily the price tag. You can find the original recipe at Once Upon a Pumpkin. This makes 4 servings, If you have extra, put it in an airtight container and place in the fridge. Be sure to eat it the next day so the scallops are still fresh.
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups raw spinach
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup dry white wine (try to get one you would equally like having with your meal).
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 minced clove garlic
1 shallot minced
1 small white onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground ginger
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound jumbo scallops
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1.) Before beginning, please read through the instructions and prep all the ingredients first. This will help this recipe go smoothly with minimal stress.
2.) In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, shallot and garlic and saute, stirring continuously, just until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon, to coat the rice with the oil.
3.) Add the white wine and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed by the rice. The alcohol will burn off so if you want to make this for your kids it’s absolutely safe. Pour in enough stock to cover the rice completely, about 3 cups, and continue to cook, stirring often, until all the liquid is absorbed.
4.) Pour in 1 cup more of the remaining stock and stir and cook until it has been absorbed. Stirring, until the rice is tender but still chewy, and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Be sure to taste it!
5.) Meanwhile, place scallops on a baking sheet lined with a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top of scallops and press gently on the towel to blot liquid. Let scallops sit at room temperature for 10 minutes while towels absorb moisture.
6.) Stir in the pumpkin puree, and spinach into the risotto and reduce the heat to very low so that the rice doesn’t simmer anymore. Stir in the Parmesan, ginger, and butter to give the risotto a nice, creamy finish. Top with salt and pepper to taste.
7.) Add salt and pepper to both sides of the scallops. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over high heat until hot. Add scallops in a single layer, flat side down, and cook, without moving, until well browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
8.) Add 1 tablespoon butter to skillet. Using tongs, flip scallops and continue to cook, until sides of scallops are firm and centers are opaque, about 30 to 90 seconds longer.
9.) Divide the risotto among four plates, top with 2-3 scallops per portion. Sprinkle more cheese on top if you wish!
If this is your first time making either a risotto or scallops congratulations! I hope it went well and you built some culinary confidence in the kitchen! There are tons of different risotto and scallop dishes out there and the more you cook them the easier it will become. If you’d like to be kept up to date for future posts like this one then be sure to SIGN UP HERE for my mailing list. I hope this keeps you inspired and you feel proud of yourself! -Heather Astaneh