Friday, February 12, 2010

Sweet pea risotto with scallops

Sometimes I like to jolt a little excitement into a plain old weeknight with something a bit decadent. One night this week, I decided to make sweet pea risotto with scallops. Doesn't that sound fancy?

Maybe so, but it was really easy. The only problem I encountered is that my scallops didn't get nicely browned the way they do when you order them in restaurants. I dried them adequately (I thought), but they emerged kinda pale, which is too bad. See for yourself.

The recipe I used was from Tyler Florence, about whom I have mixed feelings. Sometimes I think he's cute and charming; other times it's clear that he thinks he's cute and charming. There's a whiff of the overgrown frat boy in him. That said, his food often looks good, and his recipes tend to work. He did, however, say to cook the scallops over medium heat. Next time I would turn it up--way up. I want my scallops to have that gorgeous golden crust that not only adds flavor but contrasts so well with their smooth interior.

There seems to be one universal method of making risotto, am I right? Once you learn it, you barely need to read another recipe. I learned how to make risotto in 1994 and in the ensuing 16 years have found little to no variation in recipes. The only thing that was different about this recipe is that you blend one cup of the peas with a bit of chicken broth to make an electric green puree, which you stir into the risotto toward the end. The combination of sweet peas with the faintly briny scallops was delightful.


Don't freak out when I say this, but I think the recipe could be improved...

with some pork.

I was thinking a little prosciutto stirred in would be great, or even better, garnishing the whole thing with crumbled bacon.  Bacon and scallops are like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Or, for my fellow "Friday Night Lights" fans, like Tim Riggins and Lyla Garrity. Cheek-to-cheek for eternity.

Speaking of true love, I'm very excited about my Valentine's Day post, so don't forget to circle back around on Sunday. Until then, have a great weekend!


  1. YUM~ This looks fantastic, I love the idea of the pea puree stirred into the risotto. Also, I have decided almost anything is turned up a notch with the addition of a little prosciutto or pancetta.

    I am gearing up for a cabin weekend and just finished chopping up 2 pounds of mushrooms for a giant pot of wild mushroom risotto. This post just makes me even more excited :-)

  2. I'm with you on the scallop crust - I want those babies crispy on the outside and just his side of raw in the center. Peas, scallops, and bacon sounds like a match made in heaven!

  3. I agree about TF.... I think he comes off as thinking he's all that and a bag of chips. : ) I've actually never tried his recipes cause I don't enjoy watching him cook.

    I almost hate to say it, but I've never even eaten risotto, much less made my own. I'm a little afraid of it!

  4. Yum, I love risotto... And I like it with slamon instead of pork... but I like pork too!

    The addition of the peas makes for a ver pretty item!

  5. I like Tyler and a lot of his recipes but he does seem a bit into himself and the way he emphasizes on "the ULTIMATE" annoys me. I really like your scallops and risotto recipes though. I agree that pork would be GREAT addition!

  6. It looks absolutely delicious! What better way to add decadence to a weeknight dinner than this. Great idea and fabulous recipe.

  7. Hollow Peas: Thanks! Look forward to reading YOUR risotto post!

    camille: totally agree on the near-raw scallops. They're perfect that way!

    oneordinaryday: Give risotto a try sometime--it's simple and therapeutic to make (all that steady stirring just feels good!)

    A Year on the Grill: oh, salmon would be good too...

    Cookie: Totally--the "ultimate" thing bugs.

    George: Thanks! Give it a try and add your own twist...

  8. The dish looks great, but I must say that I'm a little skeptical that the home cook (minus a Viking stove) can achieve the perfectly seared scallops you see in restaurants. I just feel there must be a trade secret because how do you use super high heat without toughening the little mollusks? Still, wish I could be a dinner guest while you work on perfecting the crust!

  9. Ha ha ha ha, I cracked up at the "I think this could be improved with pork bit!" - exactly my thoughts. I saw a recipe recently which had seared scallops, avocado (I think) etc served on toasted sourdough for brekkie, but the crowning glory...wait for it....bacon dust!! How good does that sound?

    Will be back to check out your V day post and love the green rissoto :)

  10. toss the scallops, use the pork. always. :)
    i love the bed of pretty pea risotto--don't even think about tossing that!

  11. A beautiful succulent dish worthy of serving at a foodie banquet (your house!). I'll be there with bells on. And "check-to-cheek for eternity" has to be the Valentine's greeting of the year! I can picture you and the husband right now! Happy Valentine's Day to you both! Love, MOM

  12. Oops! I meant "cheek-to-cheek"! A Freudian slip? Disregard the mistake. Love conquers $$$. Usually. Mom

  13. It might not be your fault. Do you know if the scallops were dry-packed ones? If they aren't dry-pack scallops, most likely they've had a liquid injected into them to keep them plump and moist. Scallops are really perishable, so most scallops are treated this way to make the shelf-life from when they are caught miles out at sea to when they arrive at the seafood store a little longer. The other good tip is to use a pan that is NOT non-stick. You get a better sear with that.


  15. ooh, this is a good reminder that I need to practice with scallops again. I'm so bad with seafood cooking. I'll eat it when I'm out, but barely cook it at home. Luckily they're pretty easy to prepare! Beautiful post -- makes me feel like spring is in the air!

  16. HD, great idea. Sweet pea risotto with scallops, yum! You are right, risotto is a snap once you've mastered the technique.
    I had a similar problem the other night with scallops. The fix, iron skillet super hot before you put the scallops on, don't turn them until they release from the pan. When they have truly seared, they will turn easily. Sea scallops are easier to do, Bays are tiny and a little tougher.
    Add the pork! That's a great idea! How about pancetta? My favorite.
    I made scallops this week. Must be in the air!
    Happy Valentines Day Hungry Dog. I'll check back later.

  17. A yummy combination! I haven't made scallops in a gazillion years and I really love them. Don't know why I ignore scallops.

  18. Jary: I was thinking a more powerful stove might be in order...alas, being renters, we're stuck with what we have (which actually isn't too bad!)

    shaz: that breakfast you mentioned is actually a breakfast I could get on board with! Bacon dust--tell me more!

    grace: it did make a pretty bed indeed.

    Mom: Ha ha! I'll make it for you sometime! Happy V day to you too. xoxo

    Food Gal: thanks for the tips. I have heard about this issue with scallops. Also, the recipe did say to use a nonstick but I agree--next time I'll use a regular pan.

    Queen B: thanks! ANd thank you for stopping by.

    denise: I hear you. This was actually my first time cooking scallops. I can do fish and shrimp but scallops have always seemed a little risky (maybe b/c they are so expensive I don't want to mess them up!)

    Pam: yes, iron skillet and pancetta--those are definitely part of the plan next time around. Happy Valentine's day to you too!

    cookbookapprentice: It's easy to forget about they're a little pricey!