Creamy Parmesan Orzo with Bay Scallops & Asparagus

Friday, March 15, 2013

Living in the midwest, I came to realize at a relatively young age, that the majority of meat available in this part of the country, with good quality, usually begins its life with two-four legs. Sorry for the picture-painting all my vegetarian and vegan followers! point is, if you live in America's heartland, aka all of the landlocked states without at least one border on an ocean, finding anything on your plate that has fins, came out of a shell, or is a portion of a tentacle, is very uncommon.

To all of you middle America fisherman out there - I'm not knocking the freshwater fish - I've definitely enjoyed my share of fresh-caught walleye and northern. That being said, it gets cold here, which means the ice freezes, and once again I find the dilemma of no fresh fish available. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've tried to buy fresh fish out of the meat counter, or even frozen, and got it home just to be disappointed by the strong fishy taste of a fish that has been out of water for just a little too long. Do you know what I mean?

On a side note: If you do live in the midwest, and enjoy eating what you catch, make sure you are aware of any EPA advisories for the lakes or streams you are fishing. Nothing worse than finding out the dinner you just ate was laden with chemicals unsafe for human consumption. You can check your fishing spots using this interactive FISHING ADVISORY MAP provided by the EPA.

Anyways...back to my saga. So I am a fan of most seafood (Except salmon. Don't really like salmon - it's just too fishy for me). I just don't have any luck with it where I live. Unless fish sticks count, I rarely venture into cooking with fish, because I've been let down by it so many times. However...when I saw this recipe for creamy parmesan orzo with bay scallops & asparagus, I decided to give it another go. I'm so glad I did.

I did have to buy frozen bay scallops (surprise surprise, I couldn't get them fresh where I live), but the flavor did not dissapoint. I waited to purchase them the same day I was making this meal to make sure they would be the most fresh, frozen, scallops I could get my hands on. Asparagus prices were finally less than $5 per bunch like they've been most of the winter, and I wanted to try cooking with orzo - a little rice shaped pasta. I will say one of the main bonus points this recipe gets - besides being super quick and easy to get on the table - is that the ingredient list is very small, and doesn't take very long to put together. I hope you enjoy it as much as T & I!

Recipe adapted from Sugar & Spice by Celeste

CREAMY PARMESAN ORZO WITH BAY SCALLOPS & ASPARAGUS | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 35 minutes


1 lb. bay scallops (fresh or frozen)
1/2 C yellow onion, diced
1 lb. orzo pasta
1 C asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 Tbsp butter, divided
3/4 C parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
1/4 C fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


BEFORE YOU START - read through the directions! This is a fast recipe, and you'll want to time it right so the different components are completed at the correct time.

Rinse scallops and pat dry. Set aside. Dice onion.

Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion, and sauté, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes until translucent.

While the onions are sautéing, bring a large saucepan 3/4 filled with water to a boil. Add orzo and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces, and don't forget to stir those onions!

After 5 minutes, remove onions from the skillet to a warm dinner plate, and set aside. Add the cut asparagus to the saucepan with orzo, and boil an additional 5 minutes, until tender.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat in the skillet, add the scallops, and sauté for 4-5 minutes. When cooked, transfer scallops to the warm plate with onions, and tent with foil.*

*NOTE: If you have excess liquid from cooking the scallops, drain them off before transferring to the plate with onions.

Once the orzo and asparagus are cooked, drain, and transfer to a large warmed serving bowl. Quickly add the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, and 3/4 C parmesan cheese. Stir well to combine. Slowly add the cream, stir. Add the sauteed onions, scallops and fresh parsley. Mix well. Season with kosher salt and pepper, garnish with additional parmesan and parsley. Serve immediately.

*A quick and easy way to warm the dinner plate for onions and scallops, and serving bowl, are to pop them in the microwave for a couple of minutes. This will help to keep your meal nice and warm.

What are your favorite seafood recipes?

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Thanks for visiting! Let me know if you have any suggestions of recipes I should try, fun ideas to do with the kiddo, or a suggested adventure to add to our bucket list!

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