This dinner came about after having picked up one of those recipe cards from the grocery store one day, and not being able to get the idea out of my head. I don’t even remember which grocery store I picked the card up from, but I was immediately intrigued by the Scallops with Pistachio Butter… The card comes from the Try-Foods International company, who probably prints practically every recipe card you ever see in the grocery store and I couldn’t probably tell you for sure, as I have a ton of them! I’m such a sucker for anything cooking related, it’s not even funny… For example, I was recently at one of the local hospitals with a friend who was going through a difficult time, and we went to grab something for lunch when we passed a book fair thing going on in the lobby. I THINK they had other books there, but I can’t remember because I only saw the cookbooks! I bought two of them that day, like I really need any more… ;-)
Then, while thinking about what to go with it, I thought a risotto would go really well. My friend Becca, who’s actually taken classes towards a culinary arts degree, had come over not too long ago and showed me how to make risotto, so I was feeling pretty confident in myself! Not confidant enough to wing it with my very own ideas this time, though… Since the scallops were going to be served with a pistachio butter, I really had my heart set on also having the pistachios in the risotto, so that’s what I searched the internet for. And I came upon this recipe! I think the guy who wrote up the recipe might have some issues, and I don’t even know if he would want me to link back to him since I didn’t follow his recipe EXACTLY, but he does deserve credit for the base recipe I used. (*Thinks to herself, “I hope I’m not getting myself into trouble!”*)
Anyways… You guys know me, so you know I don’t do anything the way I’m supposed to anyways! First of all, when it comes to this recipe, I certainly can’t see spending good money on blue cheese, when I really don’t like the stuff… I don’t care how expensive it is, moldy cheese is moldy cheese!! Secondly, I really don’t think it’s necessary to spend an exorbitant amount of money in order to get good products, nor to achieve high-quality results. And, lastly, what in the heck good is a recipe if it’s carved in stone and you can’t do anything else with it?! So, if the guy who wrote that is offended by me changing his recipe, then I’m sorry. As far as I’m concerned, recipes are only guidelines and there aren’t many of them that I treat with any special attention or affection. Except for that of my sacred, beloved Oatmeal Cherry and White Chocolate Chip Cookies! :-)
One of my favorite things about living in a larger city is the accessibility of all kinds of ingredients. If you really don't have a lot of money, you don't need to spend a lot of money... For example, I could buy a huge container of Arborio rice, but then I would have to worry about storing it so that the oils in the grains don't turn rancid. Because I wouldn't use that much rice in a short period of time, no matter how good the dish (I have a hard time eating the same things over and over), it's much more convenient for me to buy it by the pound. The organic/natural section at my local grocery store has giant dispensers where you can buy all kinds of stuff by the pound, including red and white quinoa, Arborio rice, granola, granola bites, oatmeal, different nuts, and all kinds of stuff. And, the liquor department sells little bottles of probably 50 different wines, including one from one of my favorite local wineries, so you really only have to get as much as you need for one recipe. Unless you're like me and drink a glass or two while you're preparing the meal!
½ lb. Arborio rice
⅛ c. olive oil
½ c. finely chopped Vidalia onion
1 clove garlic, minced
¾ c. chardonnay
1 c. chicken stock, warm
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. roasted, unsalted pistachios, chopped
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1½ lb. large sea scallops
Pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil
½ c. butter or margarine
⅓ c. finely chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
If the scallops are frozen, be sure to thaw, rinse, and then drain them well on paper towels. (If at all possible, it is best to buy dry-packed scallops, as they will not retain as much moisture and will be easier to sear correctly.)
For the risotto: In a medium sauce pan over medium to medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions and cook for a couple of minutes until they sweat; add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, approximately 1 minute. Add the rice and toast, stirring constantly, as it cooks for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the wine and cook until it is completely reduced, stirring frequently. When the wine is completely gone, start adding the stock, a little at a time, and cook until the rice absorbs the stock, stirring once after each addition of stock; repeat until all of the stock is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, roasted pistachios, and Parmesan and gently stir it all together thoroughly.
For the Scallops: Preheat a cast iron skillet and stainless steel frying pan drizzled with olive oil over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper the dried scallops and place them in the skillet, letting them cook for 3-4 minutes without touching, moving, or turning them. (This is necessary to sear them properly.) After the scallops have browned nicely on the first side, flip them and leave them to cook again for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the pistachio nuts and parsley. Remove the scallops from the skillet, serve over prepared risotto with steamed asparagus, drizzle with pistachio butter, and serve immediately.