One of the best things about being diagnosed with Celiac Disease is discovering risotto. Pre-diagnosis, I always opted for the gluten-filled pasta dishes at Italian restaurants wondering later why didn't the cuisine I loved so much didn't love me back? Risotto is made from arborio rice, an inherently gluten free grain. Often times at restaurants though, you will find risotto prepared with gluten containing chicken stocks and/or seasonings that can make it off-limits for us with celiac. Parmesan or a bit of heavy cream can be added to risottos, adding to its richness, but eliminating it as an option to those that are dairy free.
I have found risotto to be just as delicious without parmesan and cream and using a few gluten free and dairy free substitutions, as evidenced by the many times I have prepared different variations of the dish....asparagus risotto, mushroom risotto, and now butternut squash to name a few. Making risotto from scratch is not difficult, only a bit time consuming, but so worth the wait! Try this gluten free and dairy free butternut squash risotto paired with seared scallops and drizzled with a little sage "butter" and toasted pine nuts. Despite the oil and "butter" in this recipe, this dish offers some definite health benefits. Butternut squash is rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, low in fat, and high in fiber and vitamin B6. Sage has antioxidant properties and is an anti-inflammatory agent. More importantly, your taste buds will feel like they've taken a mini Italian vacation.
Butternut Squash Risotto with Seared Scallops
1/2 butternut squash (peeled, seeded and diced)
1 lb sea scallops (thawed and patted dry)
2 cups arborio rice
6 cups low-sodium, gluten free chicken stock (Kitchen Basics, Pacific Foods, Swanson's Natural Goodness are a few brands)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp Earth Balance shortening
1/2 onion (diced)
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup pine nuts
1 bunch fresh sage (chopped)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place diced butternut squash on an cookie sheet and roast 15-20 minutes until tender. Set aside.
In a large pan on medium heat, add 3 tbsp of the olive oil and 2 tbsp of the Earth Balance. Saute onion in oil until onions are translucent. Add rice and stir for 2-3 minutes. Add the arborio rice and saute 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of broth to the pan and continue stirring until liquid is absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until all liquid is absorbed. Gently fold in roasted butternut squash. Cover and keep warm.
Heat a medium pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Lightly season scallops with sea salt. Add scallops to pan and saute 1-2 minutes per side until seared and cooked through. Be careful not to overcook as scallops can easily become rubbery. Remove scallops and set aside. Add the remaining 2 tbsp of Earth Balance to the pan, and when melted, add chopped sage until it cooks up slightly (1-2 minutes).
Spread pine nuts onto a cookie sheet and roast in 400 degree oven for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned. To assemble, spread a layer butternut squash risotto on the plate, adding seared scallops on top. Drizzle with sage butter and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
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