Consider this - a lemon, butter sauce coating every single grain, piece of corn, and slice of green onion. Full of garlic and shallots, because it is risotto. The grains delightfully chewy and nutty. Now add pan-seared scallops and blistered shishito peppers. Now consider this - it's your dinner!
Seared Scallops with Farro Risotto
I know, I know. I can hear the purists already. This is not a traditional risotto. But farrotto, as it is known, is worth a try. It has a pleasantly chewy and nutty taste which is just calling for some embellishment, some love. And wouldn't you call a lemon, butter sauce love? Luscious and rich, it coats the risotto completely so that each bite is full of flavor.
Why stop there! Seared scallops, quick to cook and with a delicate and sweet flavor, nestle in with the lemon, butter love fest that is going on in your bowl.
For a pop of color and flavor, add blistered shishito peppers. The green and grassy taste of the peppers adds some contrast. You could call it a little breather from the rich and buttery sauce.
Method and technique
While farro is the ingredient instead of short-grain rice like arborio, the technique is the same. Shallots and garlic are gently sweated in olive oil to avoid browning. Add the farro to the pan to toast the grains for about 4 minutes. Keep stirring - you don't want to burn the farro.
A little wine never hurts so add a cup to the pan. It is absorbed very quickly into the grains.
Give your arm a rest
Once the wine is gone, add 2 cups of vegetable stock to the pan. Give it a little stir. Then put the spoon down. You don't need to babysit the pan. The grains need a chance to cook so turn the heat to medium and let everything gently cook. The grains will puff up and some may split. This allows some starch to release into the risotto, adding a touch of creaminess. Every couple of minutes, give the risotto a glance to see if it needs a little stir. It takes about 10 minutes for the stock to be absorbed by the farro. Add another ½ cup of stock if the grains are still under-cooked. This is a great time to prep some other ingredients, like the shishito peppers.
Add another cup of stock with the corn. The cooking time will depend on whether you used fresh corn or thawed frozen corn. Either is fine but the fresh corn will need to cook a minute or two longer.
Now it is sauce time. Add 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter with lemon zest and juice. I know it seems like a lot of butter but it is 1 tablespoon per person. I think that's reasonable! Add the green onions and adjust the seasoning with ¾ teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir, stir, stir. Let everything become one with the sauce.
One of the first steps in cooking the scallops is to remove the small, rectangular piece of muscle on the side. It is very easy to pull off and will get tough and chewy if cooked.
To get a brown, crusty sear on the top of the scallop, make sure to pat dry the scallops. Give a good sprinkle of salt and pepper to the top.
The next important step is having the pan ready. It needs to be just smoking hot. The oil will start to pull from the center of the pan and you may see a whiff of smoke. Lay the scallops around the edge of the pan with plenty of room between them. It only takes 1 ½ minutes a side to cook them. The middle should be translucent. Cooking the scallops longer will lead to bouncy, rubbery balls.
Maybe it is the natural affinity of lemon and butter with seafood. Maybe it is the textures of the chewy farro, the crisp corn, and the velvety scallops. All I know is, it is good. It is treating yourself to a rich and decadent meal. The lemon, butter sauce of seared scallops with farro risotto is that little touch of love we all need once in a while.
(And these scallops were ginormous!)
Seared Scallops with Farro Risotto
- 1 cup risotto 6.5 ounces
- 3 cloves garlic minced, 1 tablespoon
- 4 shallots minced, ⅓ cup, 2.o ounces
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup white wine
- 3½ cups vegetable stock 42 ounces
- 2 ears corn 2 cups, 10 ounces
- 4 green onions thinly sliced, ½ cup, 1.4 ounces
- lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 ounces
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- pepper, to taste
- 12 sea scallops
- salt and pepper
- 2-4 tablespoons olive oil
- 16 shishito peppers
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- kosher salt
- Rinse 1 cup of farro in running water for about 3 minutes.
- Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to saute pan over medium heat.
- Once the oil is hot, add the shallots. Sweat the shallots to release flavor for 3 minutes, not brown them.
- Add the garlic and combine. Saute for 1 minute.
- Add the farro. Stir to combine the farro, the oil, the shallots, and the garlic. Continue to stir so that the farro does not brown or burn. The idea is to toast the grain.
- After 4-5 minutes, add the white wine. Stir until everything is combined. Have the heat at medium-high. Occasionally stir everything until the wine is absorbed.
- After 5 minutes, add 2 cups of vegetable stock. Lower the heat to medium and occasionally stir the farro.
- After 10 minutes, add another ½ cup of the vegetable stock. The farro should be getting plumper and some grains may start to split as the vegetable stock is absorbed.
- After 3 minutes, add the corn and 1 cup of vegetable stock. Combine all ingredients so that the corn starts to cook. You can use frozen corn - just make sure it is defrosted before you add it to the pan. It will add too much water to the risotto if frozen corn is added.
- After 4 minutes, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and unsalted butter. Stir until the butter is melted.
- At this point add the green onions, ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Give the risotto a final stir and set to the side while you sear the scallops.
- Remove the side muscle from the scallop. It is a little rectangular piece on the side.
- Lay the scallops on a paper towel and using another paper towel, blot the top surface dry. You will get a better sear if the scallop is dry. Season with salt and pepper.
- Have a saute pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the pan is very hot, almost smoking, add the scallops. Do not crowd them in the pan. It is better to sear in two batches.
- After 1 ½ minutes, flip the scallop over. It is best to use a spatula that you can get under the scallop. The top should be brown and crusty.
- Sear on the second side another 1 ½ minutes. The interior of the scallop will be translucent. If the scallops are cooked too long, the texture will be like a rubber ball.
- Serve on top of 1 cup of the farro risotto.
Blister the shishito peppers
- While the farro is being cooked in the vegetable stock, get a separate pan ready. Over medium-high heat, add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. There shouldn't be so much oil that the peppers are being fried.
- Over the course of 10 minutes, add the peppers to the pan. Turn them when they start to turn brown and the skin is a little loosened. When you remove them from the pan, sprinkle with a little salt.
- Serve with the scallops and risotto.