If you invite me to your house for dinner, I will eat anything you prepare. Really. If you’re going through the time and effort to prepare a meal, I will wholeheartedly enjoy every bite. Dietary restrictions, food allergies and food aversions are not a part of my life, which probably makes me one of the easiest dinner guests you could ever have (and I even help with the dishes).
When my kids were little, I told them I don’t care if they absolutely hated what was served to them, but if someone went to the trouble of preparing it, you’re to say “thank you, this is delicious” and at least try it. Then we had to get into the whole discussion on lying and what constitutes a lie and use your inside voice, keep your hands to yourself, pick up your toys, etc. They’re in college now and we no longer have these discussions (we have others). Even though nowadays they might say this maternal requested phrase with a bit of sarcasm, they usually enjoy and appreciate what’s prepared and if not, they know where the kitchen is.
But I know and understand that not everyone is so easy about food. Lots of people don’t eat lots of different things for any number of reasons. If you come to my house, you are my guest and I happily cook for you, even my picky eater friends and relatives with their likes and dislikes, especially when they scrunch up their nose before they even take a bite.
We had invited some old, dear friends for dinner one night. It was winter, cold and snowy and I was planning a big fire in the fireplace with a good bottle of red wine we had been waiting for the right time to open. There are so many dishes that are perfect for this type of weather, and I immediately thought of my favorite osso bucco or maybe a hearty beef stroganoff or perhaps a nice slow cooked lamb stew. Winter cooking at its best!
I was then reminded that one of my guests is a vegetarian. Okay, I thought, not a problem. Homemade pasta with julienned vegetables and fresh buffalo mozzarella would be the perfect vegetarian dish. I received a phone call. What? She’s lactose intolerant? Okay – skip the cheese. And she doesn’t eat gluten? Really??
So the bottle of red wine was saved for another day, I postponed the butcher visit and Risotto with Shrimp, Scallops and Asparagus was rustled up for my friends. The evening was perfect, the company was wonderful and we got to enjoy the fire. We caught up with each other, our families and laughed about our now grown kids’ sometimes strange childhood food habits. And I don’t think they were lying when they said the risotto was “delicious”.
- 5 c./1.25 liters seafood stock
- 6 T. olive oil, divided
- ½ lb./225 g. raw shrimp, cut in pieces, about 1“
- ½ lb./225 g. raw scallops, cut in pieces, about 1”
- fresh lemon juice from ½ lemon
- 1 shallot chopped
- ½ lb./225 g. asparagus cut in ½ “ pieces
- 2. c./360 g. Arborio or other risotto rice
- ½ c./100 ml white wine
- ¼ c./50 ml sundried tomatoes, chopped
- handful of arugula
- Bring stock to a simmer.
- In another sturdy pot, heat 2 T. oil and sauté the shrimp and scallops just until done, about 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook for another minute. Remove seafood and any liquid from pot and place in bowl.
- In the same pot, add 4 T. olive oil, shallots and asparagus and cook over medium high heat until shallots are translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add rice and stir until coated with oil.
- Add wine and cook until evaporated, just 30 seconds –1 minute or so depending on size of pot.
- Add ½ c. of hot seafood stock and stir constantly until all of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add stock ½ c. at a time waiting until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more. This should take about 18-20 minutes until the rice is tender but firm.
- Add liquid from shrimp and scallops and cook another 30 seconds or so until absorbed.
- Add shrimp, scallops, sundried tomatoes, arugula and cook another 2 minutes. Salt to your personal taste. Serve immediately.