Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Seared Scallops with Roasted Summer Vegetable "Risotto"

Hey Divas, once again, I'm hunkered down in my one air conditioned room, trying to stay out of the heat with SoCal temps soaring into the 100s.  So, while I'm hiding out with my laptop, I thought it would be the perfect chance for me to bring you another great recipe.  Last Sunday, I made my weekly trip to the Hollywood Farmers Market, and as I stood in line to purchase seafood, I had a food epiphany!

Jumbo Scallops!

Along with two fillets each of sole and halibut, I scooped up four, fresh, scrumptious-looking jumbo scallops.  I know at this moment, if The Wine Lover is reading this, he's probably cringing due to his scallop allergy, but for those of us fortunate enough to indulge, scallops can be like a little slice of heaven.  Along with my seafood purchases, I selected an assortment of fresh, organic produce, and couried it all home, where I proudly showed my purchases to Kuzak.

"Check out this cute purple baby bell pepper!" I cooed, cradling the delicate veggie in my palm.  "Oh, and can you believe how cute these yellow haricot verts are?"

He eyed the vegetables.  "You buy food based on its cuteness," he said wryly.

And so what if I do!

For dinner, after some careful consideration, I decided how I'd prepare my scallops.  I pan seared them, until they were caramelized and crispy on the outside, and then paired them with a roasted vegetable "risotto."  Now, a traditional risotto is made with a short grain white rice, such as arborio, and is slowly cooked with chicken broth, but I decided that I wanted to make a less time intensive version of risotto and use a short grain brown rice, cooked with water and olive oil for a cleaner flavor.  I chose short grain brown rice because it's healthier and I felt that the nutiness would pair well with my roasted summer vegetables.

Note:  This dish would work with any combination of roasted vegetables.  So get creative, and use what you have on hand, or what looks especially awesome at the market.  In the winter, for example, roasted butternut squash would be amazing!

Wow, was I right!  This was one of my favorite dinners I'd cooked recently, and it wasn't even that difficult to make.  This "risotto" would pair well with any shellfish or fish, and I had it leftover with a fried egg on top!  So delicious!

Domestic Diva's Seared Scallops with Roasted Summer Vegetable "Risotto"

4 jumbo scallops
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper


1 cup short grain brown rice
2 cups water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bell pepper or 2 baby bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 bunch purple spring onions, purple parts sliced into rings
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup eggplant, diced (I used 2 small Thai eggplants)
1 zucchini or other summer squash, chopped
3 thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, peeled
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a roasting pan or other oven proof dish, mix the squash, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, garlic and spring onions with 2 tbsp of the olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Lay the thyme sprigs in the dish.  Roast the vegetables in the oven for 30-40 minutes until cooked and slightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, cook the rice by placing the water, olive oil and rice in a small pot and bringing to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes to cool.

Once the vegetables have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.  Remove the thyme sprigs and mix with the cooked rice, tossing to combine.  Add the 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, the basil and season to taste with salt & pepper.

To cook the scallops, heat the grapeseed oil in a saute pan over medium high heat until almost smoking. Make sure the scallops have been patted dry (this is what will allow them to sear properly), sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and then quickly sear in the pan, cooking for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from the pan and drizzle with 1 tbsp lemon juice.

To plate, place some of the rice in the bottom of a wide-bottomed bowl or place.  Top with two scallops.  Enjoy!

Source for Ingredients:

jumbo scallops, organic thai eggplant, organic cherry tomatoes, organic squash, organic baby bell peppers, organic purple spring onions, organic basil, organic lemons from the Hollywood Farmers Market

organic short grain brown rice, organic garlic & organic thyme from Whole Foods

Music on Tap:

Pearl Jam - Backspacer

Alright, I know I already wrote this album up, but this is the section where I like to feature the music I've been listening to while I cook, and frankly, I can't stop listening to this new album from Pearl Jam, one of my all-time favorite bands.  It's one of the best I've heard all year long, and while only time will tell, this may become one of their classic albums.  While it features mostly upbeat tunes like "The Fixer" with some of Eddie's best vocals melodies in years, it also has some acoustic gems that sound like they were conceived during Eddie's "Into The Wild" soundtrack era (also, a kick ass album if you haven't heard it yet!). 

And I promise to bring more new music to the table coming up!  I just got a new Okerville River album, Air has a new one coming out and I'm going to see Steve Martin's bluegrass band at Largo next week.  So stay tuned!

BONUS WINE TASTING NOTES:  Auteur 2006 Mendocino Ridge Pinot Noir

This bottle of wine was so fantastic from the very first sip, that I had to share it with you!  Auteur is a very cool Sonoma Coast and Willamette Valley winery that specializes in single vineyard pinot noir.  The brainchild of winemaker Kenneth Juhasz, this is hands-down one of the best California pinots I've tasted all year.  Full of big fruit, but balanced and quick on the tongue, I loved this wine from the first sip, and proof of it's charm, it vanished far too quickly from our glasses.  Also, having recently visited Mendocino and had a great experience wine tasting at Narvarro and Roederer in Anderson Valley, drinking this wine made me remember my wonderful trip.