Here’s a restaurant-quality meal for a special occasion that’s easily prepared at home.
Sweet sea scallops encrusted with a pistachio-lemon zest combination are served atop a simple baked Champagne risotto accompanied by roasted asparagus.
Since giving you a recipe for an American-inspired risotto some months ago, I’ve discovered a method for making risotto that is easy and foolproof — and I may never make risotto any other way again. Instead of painstakingly stirring risotto on the stovetop, the method I’ve discovered is to simply bake it.
Start the risotto on the stovetop — as most risotto recipes require. When it’s time to add the heated broth, add all but a small amount, get it boiling, then take off the heat, cover and place in a preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. (Be sure it doesn’t get too dry while baking.) Then remove from the oven, stir in the remaining broth, cream and cheese, and voilà! You’ve got risotto!
Look for dry-packed scallops that have not been treated with a chemical solution. Unless you purchase diver-caught scallops that are hand-harvested, they may contain a small amount of grit. Rinse them well under cold running water, and pat dry.
Roasting, a method that I think brings out the best flavor, is our favorite way of enjoying most vegetables — especially asparagus. A simple treatment of olive oil, salt and pepper is all it needs to complement the rest of the dish. Serve with a mixed baby green salad with balsamic vinaigrette and purchased tiramisu for dessert.
Pistachio-Encrusted Scallops with Champagne Risotto and Roasted Asparagus
2 ¼ cups chicken broth, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry Champagne
— salt and black pepper, to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken broth in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and keep warm.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in an oven-safe saucepan. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium and cook for 4-5 minutes or until softened, being careful not to brown it. Add garlic and rice and cook for 1-2 minutes or until slightly translucent, being careful not to brown it. Add the Champagne and cook, stirring until evaporated.
Stir in 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover and transfer to the oven. Bake 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. (Do not let rice get dry.)
Remove from the oven. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup chicken broth, cream, Parmesan cheese and parsley.
¼ cup shelled roasted pistachios, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
— Black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
8 large sea scallops, washed and patted dry
— Salt, to taste
Combine chopped pistachios, lemon zest and black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and black pepper. Cook approximately 1-2 minutes on the first side or until browned. Turn scallops, add remaining butter and cook 1 more minute, basting scallops with butter in the pan. The scallops are properly cooked when slightly firm to the touch.
Top each scallop with some of the pistachio mixture, pressing gently to secure.
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
— salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 6-8 minutes to desired tenderness.
To serve, place risotto on a plate, top with scallops and asparagus. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley.