Crab and Shrimp Gnocchi with Parmesan White Wine Cream Sauce

crabandshrimpgnocchi

Happy Sunday!

Each time I think of a gnocchi, my mind immediately takes me back to Venice in 2012. My friend Cassandra and I fell in love with the pillow soft potato pasta dumpling after eating these with this Gorgonzola cream sauce. This is a pasta that we will never forget. A pasta consistency I have been trying to master since I left that splendid city–but I don’t quite have it yet. If you have never had a gnocchi, you are missing out! It is truly the perfect blend of potato and flour. Although I am a believer of all things homemade, today’s dish simply requests that you use a package of gnocchi. Making gnocchi from scratch is a pain to master, and quite frankly, is more of a winter endeavor or one made for a rainy day. Pre-packaged gnocchi are even better than typical pasta–it cooks in 2-3 minutes!

Crab and shrimp take the flavor of this dish to new heights, especially as the sauce’s base is almost Alfredo-like with heavy cream and parmigiana cheese.  Feel free to switch up the seafood–add lobster or clams if you like! Seafood and cheese go really well together! I know it seems taboo, but they’re awesome together.

I made a similar dish about a year and a half ago; coincidentally, the same company I had then I am having other today! If you are looking for the same flavor profile with more lemon and added texture (the other version I’ve made of this has Panko bread crumbs), read my old post; it’s called Crab Meat Gnocchi with Melted Havarti and Gruyere.

This meal is great for a quick, romantic night in or as a side dish for company. It’s intimate enough for two, and it’s elegant enough for entertaining. Bon appetit!

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic (minced)
  • 1 jumbo shallot finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon (should be about 1/3 cup of lemon juice)
  • 2 cups (approximately) of grated parmesan cheese
  • 15 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (do not buy precooked shrimp)
  • another 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces of lump crab meat (I used 16 ounces thinking I love lump crab meat, but this is pricey and almost too much crab meat for the amount of pasta!)
  • 1 pound of gnocchi
  • parsley for garnish (fresh or dried)

Instructions

  1. Fill a pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
  2. Insert pre-packaged gnocchi into boiling water. Cook about 2-3 minutes and stir. Gnocchi are done when they are floating on top.
  3. Drain gnocchi and pat dry with a paper towel. Keep aside.
  4. Use two tablespoons of butter to saute shrimp that are peeled and deveined. Add salt, pepper, and optional red pepper flakes to shrimp. Shrimp should be done in about 2-3 minutes (upon turning pink and no longer translucent–do not overcook!)
  5. Mince garlic and dice shallot.
  6. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and saute shallots for about 4-5 minutes at medium high heat. Stir to keep from burning. Add a bit of water if they are not sauteeing properly. Look for translucence in your shallots.
  7. Throw in the garlic after the shallots have been sauteed. Stir to keep garlic from burning. Cook garlic and shallots about 2-3 minutes until aromatic.
  8. To deglaze your pan, add 1 cup of white wine and stir shallots and garlic. Let it reduce a bit, and then had the other 1/2 cup.  Once it reduces about halfway, add heavy cream and lower your heat to low. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes.
  9. Next, get a mesh strainer and scoop out the shallots. Press the shallots into the mesh strainer to drain all the liquid. There should be almost no shallots left in the sauce. You may need to squeeze the liquid in a new pan.
  10. Kick your heat back to a medium high with the drained liquid. Add your parmesan cheese. Squeeze in half the lemon, carefully not getting seeds inside. Stir frequently You may add more cream if you need it.
  11. Lower the heat the low. Add the crab meat and cooked shrimp. Stir together and let heat through for about 5 minutes. Tip: Make sure your crab meat is out of the refrigerator right before starting to cook so you don’t add cold crab meat to your hot pasta!

 

Pan Seared Brown Butter Sea Scallops with Parmesan and Pea Risotto

Pan Seared Brown Butter Sea Scallops with Parmesan and Pea Risotto

Happy Tuesday!

I am exhausted. I admit it (I rarely do). I’ve been driving and flying all over the place lately. This weekend, I drove to Raleigh to fly back home to Pennsylvania to host and attend my best friend’s bridal shower. I am a tired soul. On my late flight home last night, I was thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner the next day (and the rest of the week–I’m a foodie, after all). All I could think about was my succulent sea scallops I had in my freezer. But would I have the energy to prepare this vision? You better believe it!

This meal that I (selfishly) made only for myself today sounds romantic and date night appropriate. Seafood screams “expensive” and “restaurant” as well as “risotto.” And while I wouldn’t be objected to making this for my significant other, I want to stress that to make this delicious meal doesn’t warrant a special occasion. I made this dinner in about 25 minutes from prep to plate. I know that this doesn’t sound weeknight friendly, but believe me, it is. This is quite the impressive feat.

Sea scallops, similar to crab, has a unique sweetness unlike other fish. Sea scallops are supreme to bay. Sea scallops are the larger of the two; to help you remember, think of the vastness of the sea. If a sea is huge, so is the sea scallop. Bays are just the “connection to the body of water”, so bay scallops aren’t as large as the latter. I believe that size matters when it comes to scallops. Bay scallops are okay for dishes where they are not quite the star of a dish, but for this dinner, you need to invest in the sea scallops. Are they pricier? Yes, but you’re worth it. Besides, you can get a great deal on frozen scallops (and when they thaw, they are virtually the same as if they were fresh off the dock) every now and again. I paid about $13.00 for 1 1/2 pounds! Not a bad deal, if you ask me. Once you see them on sale, snag them and put them in your freezer for whenever you’re feeling inspired!

Now for the next layer of luxury: Risotto. Risotto is not just rice; if you haven’t had risotto, you’re in for a treat. Risotto is an Italian preparation of arborio rice. Risotto, if done properly, is rich and creamy without a lick of cream (could you imagine that?) The starches as they are slowly released create a thickness to the rice. Risotto isn’t necessarily difficult to make, although it takes patience and careful attention. Please follow my directions carefully as I have seen risotto be destroyed by impatience by adding too little liquid, too much liquid, or not stirring enough. It’s about balance! I add grated parmesan at the end to add to the creaminess and nuttiness that is to complement the brown butter.

The scallops and risotto are paired beautifully naturally, but they are enhanced with the brown butter. If you’ve never had browned butter, you are in for a treat. The nuttiness and depth comes out in butter when the butter itself is cooked. All you need to do is melt butter in a frying pan and wait for it to change to a medium brown. Some people like deeper brown butters, but be careful not to burn it! You can stir occasionally to see what’s happening.

Enough talking–let’s cook!

All The Fish In The Sea

Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • 1/2 diced yellow onion (very finely)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 3-4 cups of chicken broth  (I would grab a 32 ounce carton–it’s better to have more than less!)
  • ½ cup of frozen peas
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, or more to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (preferably, freshly cracked)
Seared Scallops
  • 1 pound jumbo scallops (use leftover brown butter to sear scallops)**
  • salt and pepper to taste (preferably, freshly cracked)

**-If you are using frozen scallops, thaw them by placing them in a plastic bag and submerging them in cold water for a half an hour. You can do this as you’re making the risotto. The scallops only take 3 minutes to cook!

***-Whether your scallops are frozen or fresh, pat them dry with a paper towel (extra dry!) so there is no liquid. This is to ensure an excellent sear!

Brown Butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons butter

Directions for Risotto:

First, make your risotto. This takes the longest! Cut up your garlic and onion.   In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the garlic and diced onion and saute for a minute or two until soft and fragrant. Add the arborio rice so it toasts a bit, but then stir to coat with butter and olive oil. Add the white wine. Add the chicken broth, ½ cup at a time, and simmer and stir after each addition until the rice is soft and creamy. You must stir very frequently, but let it simmer every 30 seconds or so in order to adequately cook the rice! Each time you add the 1/2 cup of broth, stir constantly so that the rice is absorbing the liquid. Once it seems like the liquid is almost all absorbed, add more (approximately 3 cups). Do not burn the rice! This process of ladling liquid into the risotto should take about 20 minutes. Taste the rice and make sure it’s soft and creamy. The starches should be released so that the mixture is thick without adding anything. Towards the end of cooking, add the frozen peas. Lastly, add the parmesan and stir until incorporated. Crack salt and pepper to taste.

Directions for Brown Butter:

Put a few tablespoons of butter in a clean skillet over medium heat and stir it while watching it closely – when it starts to look golden and foamy, remove from heat, and place a bowl aside.

Directions for Scallops: 

With the leftover butter that is in the pan for the brown butter you should be able to cook the scallops. You do not want too much oil because that will get in the way of the sear on the scallop. If you have too little oil, the scallop will stick to the pan. There should be butter on the pan with brown/black solids from before. Before cooking the scallops, pat the scallops dry with a paper towel. Next, sprinkle with the scallop with freshly cracked sea salt and pepper, and add to pan. They should sizzle. If you don’t hear a sizzle, pull it out and wait until it’s heated long enough. Shake gently to prevent sticking. After 2-3 minutes, flip each scallop over. They should have a pretty golden brown exterior and an opaque inside. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb excess oil.

All Together:

Scoop risotto into a bowl. Place approximately 4-6 scallops per person on top of the risotto. Drizzle the brown butter on top of the scallops as well as a little bit on the risotto. Enjoy!