My husband loves scallops – grilled, sashimi, carpaccio – so imagine his delight when he found out the next recipe card would be featuring them. Buoyed by my recent risotto success, I decided to try making another one to make sure the last attempt wasn't a fluke. And there is nothing quite like the comfort of a slightly mushy, but far from sloppy, easy-to-eat one-pot meal. It’s the sort of meal you want to cup in your hands on a cool rainy day, curled up on the couch, perhaps with a good book, magazine or a blanket laid across your lap.
As asparagus is of fluctuating quality and prices throughout the year, frozen peas make a great substitute. Their sweet taste of spring – think risotto or pasta primavera – work just as well with scallops and there is the added advantage that almost everyone will have a bag of them in the freezer at the ready.
Asparagus Risotto with Scallops (serves 2)
(adapted from The Age – Epicure 50 Best Recipe Cards, recipe by Jill Dupleix)
· 1 tbs olive oil
· scallops (as many as you like)
· ½ onion, finely diced
· 1 cup risotto rice, unwashed
· 700mL hot, simmering vegetable or chicken stock (you may need more or less than this)
· 1 bunch of asparagus, tips lopped off and the stalked sliced into thin rounds
· 1 tbs butter
· 1 tbs grated lemon rind (optional)
- Heat ½ tbs oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and cook scallops until lightly browned on either side. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining oil then add onion to the pan. Cook until onion is soft and translucent before adding rice. Stir rice to coat well before adding two ladles of stock. Allow to absorb almost completely before adding more stock, a ladleful at a time. Stir gently and keep adding enough stock to keep the rice wet.
- In the meantime, drop asparagus tips into simmering stock until tender then remove and set aside. Add sliced ends into the stock until bright green before stirring into the rice.
- Take a grain of rice and check for doneness – it should be soft and sticky but still retain a little bite. When rice is just about ready, stir butter through risotto before returning scallops and asparagus tips to the pan to heat through. Season to taste.
- Serve risotto topped with grated lemon rind, if desired.