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By Debbie AndersonJuly 27, 2021July 29th, 2021No Comments

The Secret’s Out

By Meda Kessler
Photos by Meda Kessler

We’ve managed to use most of the odds and ends in our pantry during stay-at-home COVID cooking.

Thanks to the internet, we were able to sleuth out recipes for everything from cocoa nibs to guava jelly because we really hate to waste food. Cookbook author Kelly Senyei is a kindred soul. She finds a way to use everything from broken and crushed ice-cream cones (repurpose them in a pie crust) to champagne for fluffing up pancake batter. Senyei has compiled 125 recipes in The Secret Ingredient Cookbook. We already use some of her “secrets” in our culinary arsenal — orange marmalade as a poultry glaze is a go-to — but we’re definitely going to add green olives to our pesto for a briny zing and try substituting edamame for lima beans in a corn succotash. We love canned pineapple as a topper for cottage cheese, so we were happy to find new uses for it. But the very best advice is found in her foreword: Approach cooking with an entirely open mind and an empty stomach. Find The Secret Ingredient Cookbook at your favorite book purveyor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Mariner Books, $30)

The secret ingredient in this entree is pineapple juice. We always have a container of it in the pantry to use for summer cocktails, so it’s nice to put it to use in a different way. It adds a touch of sweetness to the creamy rice and pairs well with the seafood, too. If you don’t have microgreens, finely chop a bit more basil.

Seared Scallops with Basil Risotto

Makes 4 servings

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1½ cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1¼ cups uncooked arborio rice
  • ¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed
  • ½ cup microgreens

Risotto Combine the pineapple juice and broth in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then cover with a lid and remove from heat.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add a ladle of the hot juice mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Continue adding the hot liquid to the saucepan, one ladle at a time and stirring intermittently, until the rice is no longer crunchy, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper; turn off the heat and stir in the basil. Set aside, covered.

Scallops Pat each scallop dry, then season with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add half the scallops and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip the scallops once, then tilt the skillet and baste them with the oil.

Continue cooking the scallops an additional 1 minute, until no longer translucent. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining scallops, adding more oil as needed.

To serve, divide the risotto among serving plates and top with the scallops. Garnish with microgreens and serve.