My husband and I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn for three years and frequented the farmer's market at Grand Army Plaza, which, in my humble opinion, is second only to the mighty Union Square market. Every Saturday, we noticed a line at this one particular stand and, no matter how early we roused ourselves, the goodies were always gone before we got there.
What was sold at this mystical place? Fish! Fish at a farmers' market? Ew gross! you might say and we did too until it dawned on us that NYC is actually an island within spitting distance of the Atlantic Ocean and Long Island Sound. This stand would bring in fresh seafood that really truly still smelled like it's old home, the ocean.
Due to extreme laziness - that must've been the cause - we never did get to sample the offerings of the fish stand at Grand Army Plaza. However, we just happened to hit the Union Square market early enough this week and scored big time. Little babies who wake up at 7am every morning will do wonders for getting you killer fish - er, shellfish as is the case this week.
We bought 2 pounds of sea scallops that were so fresh and perfect, they basically talked to me. Wondering what on earth to do with them, I copied our good friends who cook outrageous Risotto Milanese with scallops and a balsamic vinegar reduction. It's so simple and light and the pleasing touch of saffron accentuates the scallops' sweetness and saltwater freshness. Even my daughter was gobbling scallops and risotto with her little spoon. Served with a salad of fresh market greens lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil, the entire perfect meal only took 30 minutes to put together. Give it a go!
Risotto Milanese with Scallops and Balsamic Vinegar
Bring to a boil and then simmer about 5 cups of chicken broth (homemade if you can manage it, but I use organic all the time!) in a small pot. Pat the scallops dry and set them aside. Chop up a medium onion and add it to a large hot pot sprinkled with a bit of olive oil. After about 5 minutes, once the onion has softened, measure out 10 ounces of arborio rice and pour into the pan mixing it into the onion. Add a pinch of crumbled up saffron to half a cup of wine and pour over rice and onion mixture. Keep stirring and stirring – the key to a good risotto is the stirring. Once the wine is absorbed, add a ladle-full of chicken broth. Stir until it’s absorbed and keep adding ladle-full after ladle-full until the risotto is soft, but al dente. Turn off the heat and add a pat or so of butter and half a cup of Parmesan cheese.
With your other hand – keep stirring! – add about a cup or so of balsamic vinegar and a teaspoonful or so of sugar to a small pot. Stir and bring it to a boil and then simmer until it reduces down to a thick syrupy texture.
When your risotto starts coming together, sprinkle some salt and pepper on the scallops. Throw them into a hot pan and sear on both sides until they are a nice golden brown.
To serve, spoon some risotto into bowls, pop a few scallops on top and drizzle with a bit of the reduced balsamic. Enjoy!
Approximate Dinner Cost
• W/Wine - $39
• W/o Wine - $24
• Leftovers - 3 nights of rice with chicken thighs and salad came to $6 per meal for us three
• Breakdown - Scallops $13, Saffron $3, Arborio Rice $3, Butter $.50, Chicken Broth $3, Parmesan Cheese $.50, Salad $2 and Wine $15
*Author’s Note – If you or someone you’re cooking for has a dairy allergy as my daughter does, just pull out a serving of risotto before adding the butter and cheese. It’s super creamy and tasty even without the dairy.