Romance is in the air, isn’t it? Everything is heart-shaped and pink and flowers and chocolate. It’s definitely here. Valentine’s Day.
Is Valentine’s Day just another Thursday to you? Or do you go all-out with gifts and chocolate and champagne? Do you do the anti-Valentine’s thing? Or do you love all the love?
I fall somewhere in the middle. I celebrate in that I think time spent with a loved one, a friend, or just treating yourself to a nice book and a hot cup of coffee is more important, and romantic, than shiny gifts. A nice meal at home beats a reservation and an overpriced prix fix meal. A bottle of my favorite red beats champagne any day, but especially on Valentine’s. The last one is less about Valentine’s Day and more about the fact that champagne is a sure-fire ice pick to the head.
Whatever you do, though, you should enjoy yourself. For me that includes a nice dinner at home, in which I treat myself to ingredients I don’t usually buy. If you’re like me, I have an idea. It’s fancy, special, and is best done with two people. Perfect for a Valentine’s Day in.
Seafood risotto is a knock-out, but add some beautiful, sweet seared scallops and you’ve got yourself a feast.
You can see why two people are helpful in this dish–one stirs, making sure the risotto is nice and creamy, while the other cooks the seafood. Both people are busy, conversation is flowing, and everything is done at once.
The steaks were flavorful and juicy; the beans were sweet and salty and a little crunchy, but the risotto. The risotto was out of this world.
It was creamy and flavorful without being too heavy. The shrimp added nice texture and flavor but my favorite were the scallops. Perfectly seared and sweet, they were like the super indulgent icing on the already incredible cake.
Admittedly, scallops aren’t something I buy every day. In fact, even on a special day I could only swing 4 of them–they’re not cheap. However this risotto, without the steak and the sides, would cost you over $20 in a restaurant on a regular night. If you’re looking to have an affordable, stress-free, special, and, sure, a little indulgent Valentine’s Day, why not splurge on a comfortable night at home?
That’s what we’ll be doing, anyway. A nice, quiet meal in, that pulls out all the stops. That’s my idea of celebrating. Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! Do what you love, why don’t you?
Here’s the recipe:
Seafood Risotto with Seared Scallops (serves 2, with lots of leftover risotto!)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3 cups seafood stock, or 2 cups chicken stock with 1 cup clam juice
- 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 large diver scallops, with the little side mussel removed (they probably will do this for you already, but you should check just in case. If it’s not, just gently pull and discard.)
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- plenty of salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- The juice of 1/2 a lemon
- In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add shrimp and cook until just pink, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Heat stock in a medium sauce pan over medium heat, until simmering.
- Meanwhile, in a large, heavy bottomed pot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add onion and let cook for 5 minutes, until very soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add rice and stir until just translucent, about 1 minute. Add white wine and stir constantly until rice has absorbed all of the liquid. Add stock, 1/2 cup at a time, and stir as rice absorbs the liquid. Keep doing this until the rice is creamy and tender, which should take about 30-35 minutes. You may not use all of the stock, and that’s ok. You also might need to have some extra handy, just in case you need more. When the risotto is finished, remove from the heat and add cheese. Stir to combine, then add shrimp. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
- While the risotto is just about finished cooking, season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat the remainder of the olive oil, along with the butter in the same skillet as the shrimp, over medium high heat. Let the pan get super hot–the oil should be simmering. Add the scallops and cook, undisturbed, for about 3 minutes. Flip the scallops and let cook 1-2 minutes more, until each side is nice and golden brown. Set aside and cover with foil if the risotto isn’t ready yet.
- Plate the risotto with the scallops on top. This would be plenty if you wanted to serve as a meal, or it could be used as a side dish.