Brown Butter Scallops with Risotto and Creamy Spinach

Brown Butter Scallops and Risotto-9371

I’m normally against doing much with scallops besides seasoning them very lightly with salt and pepper and tossing them into a hot pan to sear for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes on each side. I had a chef instructor once who insisted that all they needed was the sweetness of their own juice, and I believed him.

However, there’s very little in this world that can’t be improved with a healthy drizzle of brown butter.

This is a meal that will make your kitchen smell ridiculously good and look like it belongs in a restaurant, but is actually pretty easy to put together. And the level of deliciousness that comes from that much cream and brown butter combining is epic.

Brown Butter Scallops and Risotto-9374

Dinner party at my house. Bring your appetites!

Brown Butter Scallops with Risotto and Creamy Spinach

Serves 4.

What You’ll Need:

For the risotto:

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

For the scallops:

  • 12 jumbo scallops
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp butter

For the creamy spinach:

  • 3 cups baby spinach, stems torn off
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste

How to Make it:

1. The risotto takes the longest, so let’s start with that. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the garlic and saute over medium-low heat until it’s tender but not brown.

2. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Stir until well combined with the garlic and butter, about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth by cupfuls and boil the mixture gently until the broth is absorbed, stirring continuously. Repeat until the rice is tender and the mixture is creamy {this takes about 20 minutes}.

3. Stir in the white wine and let cook 5 minutes. Then stir in the mascarpone and Parmesan cheese until melted and well combined. Season with salt and pepper, and transfer to four plates.

4. In a large non-stick saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Stir in the cream cheese and heavy cream until the cream cheese is melted and smooth. Add the spinach and nutmeg, and simmer over medium heat until the spinach wilts and the cream and cheese mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from heat. Split amongst the four plates.

5. Wipe out the non-stick saucepan and make sure it’s clean and dry. Set over medium heat. Pat the scallops very dry, season lightly with salt and pepper, and add to the pan. They shouldn’t stick, but move them around slightly to make sure they don’t. Cook for 2-3 minutes, and then flip and cook again an additional 90 minutes. Let drain on paper towel, and then divide amongst the plates.

6. Melt the remaining 4 tbsp butter in a skillet over medium heat. As the butter melts, you’ll see it foam. Watch the color and swirl the pan occasionally to make sure it cooks evenly. When the butter turns from golden to slightly toasty, it’s done! Let sit for 5 minutes and then drizzle over the scallops, risotto, and greens for a delicious treat.

Brown Butter Scallops and Risotto-9375

Scallops are a special treat, because let’s face it, they’re not exactly wallet friendly. But when I’ve got a special party I want to serve something fancy for, I make the trip into Wegman’s and get the jumbo diver scallops. Still cheaper than we’d get them in a restaurant – and even though I do get them at restaurants occasionally, I’m definitely biased toward the ones I cook in my own kitchen.

What are your favorite special occasion meals?


About the ChefKristin

Career Army officer with a tendency toward workaholism. On the side, self taught cook, carpenter, and gardener, working to build a beautiful life for my family. Trying to tilt my balance in the right direction.

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