So I made a thing about a week or two ago — an experiment with leftover ingredients from a few recipes and other recipe experiments (Prepare yourselves, Thronesgiving is coming). That thing was a Scallop and Red Lentil Risotto. I had a package of cubed butternut squash, a couple of apples from the discount produce bin, and a package of bay scallops that needed to be used immediately. Knowing that apple and butternut squash go together, bacon goes with all of those, bacon also goes with scallops…you see where I’m going with this.
I was also lazy and didn’t want to thaw out any bacon. I do, however, pour bacon grease into the same (refrigerated and clean) container after every time I cook it. If you don’t do this practice, some unsalted butter with a bit of smoked paprika can give you a similar flavor profile for this recipe. However if you want to fry up some bacon and toss it into this, don’t let me stop you.
So yes, this is a weird combo, but it tastes fantastic. After I brought my leftovers to work for lunch, my coworkers were asking what restaurant I picked them up from because it smelled divine. This is probably the first time the breakroom microwave smelled of seafood and it was considered a “divine” experience. While the bacon grease makes this more of a healthy-ish recipe, red lentils are ridiculously good for you — high in fiber, protein, vitamins, and slow digesting carbohydrates. They can be pretty cheap if you know where to shop, (we get ours at DeKalb Farmers’ Market), and a great, lighter alternative for rice in dishes.
Scallop and Red Lentil Risotto with Apple, Mushroom, and Butternut Squash
- 3 Tb bacon grease or unsalted butter
- Roughly 1 cup butternut squash, diced
- 1/2 green apple, diced
- 3-4 mushrooms, halved and thickly sliced
- 1 inch segment fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 3/4 lb bay scallops
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock.
- 1.2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat two tablespoons of the bacon grease in a large skillet on a stovetop over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and ginger and cook to soften. Stir in butternut squash, mushrooms, and apple. Cook for about a minute before stirring in lentils.
- Add wine and rest of the bacon grease and cook, continuing to stir until it has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time, slowly stirring and letting the liquid cook out before adding another. Add the scallops immediately after pouring in the last half cup of stock.
- Continue to stir and cook the risotto until the scallops are opaque and the lentils are tender.Full stir in the parmesan cheese and serve by itself, or on a bed of greens with a splash of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.