Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lemon Garlic Scallops with Rustic Farro Risotto

My husband, Greg and I are huge fans of Chef Gordon Ramsay.  We watch all of his shows and always enjoy seeing him take on a challenge and inspire people, including myself.  Whether it is a horrifyingly dirty restaurant, crazy families, at home cooks making their dreams come true or the chefs in Hell's Kitchen attempting to get through a dinner service, Chef Ramsay always seems to bring in his amazing teaching guns and because of his passion for food he gets through to all of them.  While I can't technically call my (dance) students "donkeys" I appreciate his tough teaching style with a big heart.  

Lately, Greg and I have been keeping up with Hell's Kitchen watching them try to execute a perfect risotto and a beautiful sear on their scallops.  While I don't claim to be a professional chef, I do however love both of those dishes and with a little help from Chef Ramsay's cookbook, A Chef For All Seasons, was up for the challenge of putting my own creative twist to them.  

I admit I was nervous about getting the scallops perfectly cooked, but I was certain that my version of risotto would be a creamy perfection.  I decided to finally try out the farro that had been sitting in my pantry for weeks.  Then taking a look in my refrigerator, I found asparagus and a portabella mushroom screaming to be added to the farro to make an earthy, rustic risotto.  Now, if you haven't tried farro yet I highly suggest you do.  Farro is an ancient grain and great substitute for rice or pasta and the nutty flavor is wonderful.  It's also low in gluten and high in fiber and protein.

Lemon Garlic Marinade

6-9 sea scallops
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
A few dashes of red pepper flakes (optional)

In a small bowl mix the lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a bowl.  Place the scallops in a flat glass container or tupperware and pour the marinade over it.  Set aside and allow to marinate for about 20-30 minutes. 

Rustic Farro Risotto
2 tablespoons of butter, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 cups farro (I bought mine at Trader Joe's)
1 large portabella mushroom, chopped
10-12 asparagus stalks, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio)
2-1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup Trader Joe's cheddar/gruyere cheese or 1/2 cup parmesan

In a small pan over medium heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Add the mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan heat the vegetable broth to a low simmer and keep warm while making the risotto.  Be careful not to boil.

In a dutch oven or large sauce pan heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic and asparagus and cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the farro and cook for another 2 minutes.  The farro should become fragrant at this point.  Add the wine and cook until all the wine has been absorbed.  Using a ladle, pour 1 ladle full of vegetable broth into the farro, stirring constantly.  Cook until the broth has been absorbed into the farro.  Continue this process with the rest of the broth.  The farro should become tender and creamy.  Turn off the heat and add the cheese.  Stir to combine.  Add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper.  Cover to keep warm.

Cooking the Scallops

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.  Place the marinaded scallops in the pan arranged in a circle.  Cook for about 3 minutes until golden brown.  Turn over each scallop, placing them in the same order they were arranged.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.  The scallops should feel bouncy when pressed lightly.  Be careful to not overcook.  Serve immediately on top of the farro risotto.

Makes 2-3 servings