Simple and healthful need not be boring, as is evident by tonight's dinner. Risotto, often an overly rich and creamy dish, finds its creaminess in slow cooking, chicken stock, and a bit of parmesan cheese. Lemons lend so much flavor that you can get away with ditching the heavy cream--try Meyer lemons if they are available to you. Scallops, simply seasoned and seared in a hot pan, give a caramelized crunch to soft, wilted spinach. Altogether, a lovely spring meal.
Seared Scallops Over Wilted Spinach and Lemon Risotto
for the risotto:
1 small leek, white part only, well washed and cut into a fine dice
1 Tbsp butter, divided
splash olive oil
.5 c. Arborio rice
1.5 c. chicken stock
freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
scant .25 c. parmesan cheese
Sweat the leek in half of the butter and the olive oil over low heat in a tightly covered sauce pan for 6 minutes, stirring once or twice. Add the rice and raise the heat to medium, stirring often for 3 minutes, or until the grains are shiny and opaque.
Add half of the stock, season lightly with the salt and pepper, and stir continuously until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Add the remaining broth, .25 c. at a time, stirring constantly after each addition.
When most of the liquid is absorbed, add the zest and continue to cook for 6-8 minutes more, until the rice is al dente. Stir in the lemon juice and parmesan cheese. Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining butter. Serve immediately.
for the scallops:
8 large diver scallops
freshly ground pepper
.5 Tbsp butter
splash or two olive oil
splash of dry white wine or stock
4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
1 small shallot, minced
Season scallops lightly with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan over medium-high heat until butter is foamy. Place scallops in pan and do not touch, if you let them sit in the hot pan, undisturbed, you will get the golden caramelization we are after. Once the scallop begins to pull from the pan and look to be a deep golden brown on the edges (about 1-2 minutes), use a thin, flexible spatula or tongs to flip them over. Cook the other side until golden, another 1-2 minutes. Remove to a warm plate.
Add white wine and shallot to the hot pan, deglaze for 30 seconds, scraping up any browned bits, then add spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper. Use tongs to toss quickly until it begins to wilt. To serve, you can either plate the risotto seperately or stack as such: scoop of risotto, topped with wilted spinach leaves, 4 scallops, and a bit of lemon zest for garnish. 4 is actually a proper serving of scallops, but Chris liked them so much he wished there had been more. This was a stunning dinner, enjoy!