Scallops on Butternut Squash Risotto with Bacon

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Jamie WestOjai Valley Inn & Spa

For the Risotto

  • ½ butternut squash
  • 6 cups chicken broth  
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups arborio rice
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 5 strips bacon, diced ¼ inch
  • 5 Tbsp. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ tsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • To taste, salt and black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. Arbequina extra virgin olive oil

For the Scallops

  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 large diver scallops, clean and dry in paper towel

Spice Crust

  • Mix all ingredients together, reserve until ready to use
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder    
  • 1 tsp. black pepper    
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. coriander, ground
  • ½ tsp. paprika    
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Salt & pepper to taste

For the Spinach

  • 3 cups savoy spinach
  • 1 tsp. shallots, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp. Arbequina extra virgin olive oil

For the Garnish

  • 1 tsp. lemon zest, grated
  • 1 tsp. orange zest, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. chervil leaves
  • To taste, Arbequina extra virgin olive oil


To Roast the Squash

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Halve squash lengthwise and remove the seeds. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil on a parchment lined sheet pan and roast cut side down until tender and golden, about 45 minutes. Cool then scoop the meat from the skin. Set aside until needed.

For the Risotto

  1. Bring broth to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer, covered.
  2. Meanwhile, cook onion in extra virgin olive oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add rice, garlic, and bacon and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Stir in ½ cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring frequently, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup), about 18 minutes total. (There will be leftover broth.) Stir in squash pieces, and then stir in cheese, salt, pepper and sage. Finish with extra virgin olive oil.

For the Scallops

  1. Heat a 10-inch sauté pan over high heat. Add extra virgin olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pan. Add the dry scallops seasoned with salt, pepper in the pan being careful not to spatter the hot oil. Place the scallops flat side down and brown and caramelized on both sides. Remove when done so they do not get overcooked.

For the Spinach

  1. In a large sauté pan, heat to medium high. Add the olive oil and shallots, sauté quickly. Add the spinach until it is wilted, season with salt and pepper.

To Serve

  1. Place 3 Tbsp. of risotto in the center of a plate. Put the sautéed spinach on top of the risotto; place two of the cooked scallops on top of the risotto in the center of the plate.
  2. Drizzle a little Arbequina extra virgin olive oil directly on the scallops. Sprinkle some chervil leaves and some citrus zest on the plate as well. Serve immediately.
Time Level Yield
90 minutes Moderate 4-6 servings