Chard stirred into rice-shaped pasta gives this risotto-like dish a vegetable component and transforms it into the perfect base for quickly browned sea scallops. The quick pan sauce gains bright flavor from sherry vinegar. This fast, simple dish is easy to prepare on a weeknight, but elegant enough to serve to company.
Seared Scallops with Greens and Orzo
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 cup orzo
3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml.) plus 3 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup (2 oz./60 g.) chopped greens such as red chard, black kale or escarole
3 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 1/2 tsp. minced fresh thyme
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
3/4 lb. (375 g.) large sea scallops
3 Tbs. sherry vinegar
In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the orzo and stir until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml.) broth and bring to a boil, stirring up the browned bits. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the orzo is almost tender, stirring frequently, about 15 minutes. Add the chard and stir until the orzo is tender, the greens have wilted and the mixture is creamy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the parsley, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the thyme and the lemon zest. Season the orzo to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in 1 tablespoon of the butter. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.
Season the scallops on both sides with salt, pepper and 1 teaspoon of the thyme. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add the scallops and saute until almost springy to the touch, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer the scallops to a warmed plate. Pour off the oil from the frying pan. Add the vinegar and remaining 3 tablespoons of broth to the frying pan and boil until syrupy, stirring up the browned bits, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat. Add any scallop juices from the plate. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Divide the orzo mixture between 2 warmed plates. Top with the scallops; drizzle the pan sauce over the top, and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. SErve right away. Serves 2.
Find more simple, seasonal weeknight recipes in our cookbook Weeknight Fresh + Fast, by Kristine Kidd.