Meatless Monday Challenge

One-Pot Seared Scallop Risotto with Lemon

on April 9, 2024
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This Seared Scallop Risotto brings bold flavors with fresh lemon and Parmesan, using simple cooking techniques in only one pot.
Scallop risotto served with lemon wedges on a pink plate.

If you want an elegant gourmet-level seafood dinner that uses simple ingredients and can be achieved in just one pot, this Scallop Risotto with Lemon has your name all over it!

The pan-seared scallops are perfectly golden brown, with a buttery, succulent texture, and hint of lemon. They’re only made better by being served atop a creamy, lemon-y, Parmesan risotto. I know—YUM!

So, here’s the thing about risotto. It’s the literal OPPOSITE of a set it and forget it meal. It’s very hands on and requires constant stirring to get it right.

Still, the technique itself is very simple, making this the perfect meal for those nights where you want to put on your favorite music, grab a glass of wine, and bask in the joy of cooking, while absorbing the appetite-whetting smells of this creamy risotto.

Lemon risotto with seared sea scallops on a pink plate.

As a busy mom and environmental scientistone pot meals are my absolute favorite! Less clean-up means we save on both time and water. That’s a win in my book!

Green tip: Speaking of cleanup, if you have a dishwasher-use it! Comparing dishwashing to handwashing, using an efficient dishwasher uses 1/6th the amount of water to get your dishes clean!

Scallop Risotto Ingredients


Here’s everything you need:

  • Scallops. You can use either bay or sea scallops! The scallops pictured are sea scallops.
  • Lemon juice.
  • Salt & pepper.
  • Unsalted butter. Or olive oil. If you only have salted butter, just adjust the amount of added salt accordingly.
  • Arborio rice. This cooking technique will not work with a long grain rice.
  • Vegetable broth. Or chicken or shrimp broth if you prefer.
  • Dry white wine. Like Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc.
  • Shallot.
  • Garlic.
  • Parmesan cheese.
ingredients for scallop risotto with lemon - butter, garlic, pepper, sea scallops, lemon juice, vegetable broth, white wine, salt, Parmesan, rice, shallot

Sustainable Scallops

There are two main varieties of scallops: bay scallops and sea scallops. The biggest difference between the two is their size. Sea scallops are found in deeper waters and can be up to three times larger than bay scallops.

While typically we think of wild caught as more sustainable, when it comes to scallops, farmed is actually more sustainable.

Scallop farming may actually be beneficial to surrounding habitats, while harvesting wild scallops leads to a lot of bycatch which is damaging to other species.

Green tip: Look for Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Canada Organic, or the Marine Stewardship Council labels to ensure your scallops are sourced sustainably.

Risotto with Scallops Tips and Tricks


Prep Your Scallops First

Make sure your scallops are completely defrosted before you start making this easy risotto. If you are using frozen scallops, transfer them to the refrigerator 24 hours before, or place them in a storage bag and submerge the bag in cold water for about 45 minutes.

Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel (consider these bamboo paper towels ones for a more sustainable option), to remove excess moisture and get the best sear on your scallops.

Then, generously season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper. You will not use all ½ teaspoon of the salt and pepper now—save the rest to add to the risotto.

Using a paper towel to pat dry sea scallops.
Pat dry the scallops on both sides.
Seasoning sea scallops with salt and pepper.
Season your scallops with salt and pepper.

Sear Your Scallops in Butter and Lemon

Get the butter hot in the pan first before adding anything to it. Give it about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Scallops cook quickly, and you want to get a nice golden-brown sear on both sides, without over-cooking the center.

Once the butter is hot, carefully lower your scallops into the hot butter. You can use a spatula or tongs. The scallop should sizzle right away.

Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice onto the scallops and cook for about 2 minutes on both sides, until golden brown. The internal temperature of the scallops should reach 145°F.

Then, remove the scallops from the pan, leaving the lemon-y butter behind. I like to place the scallops on a sheet pan and put them in the oven on the “keep warm” setting.

If you don’t have a “keep warm” setting, usually the lowest temperature on the average oven is 170°F. You can set your oven to its lowest setting and place them on the bottom rack.

Searing sea scallops in butter, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
Get the butter hot in the pan first, then add the scallops and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and sear for 2 minutes on both sides.

Get Started on Your Arborio Rice

Peel and mince your garlic and peel and dice your shallot. Add them right to the pan with the lemon butter and little brown bits left behind from pan-searing the scallops.

Cook the garlic and shallot for just a couple of minutes until fragrant, then add the arborio rice, the rest of the salt and pepper, and the white wine. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until most of the white wine is absorbed.

Cooking shallots and garlic in same butter just used to sear scallops.
Add the garlic and scallop to the hot butter and cook until fragrant.
Adding arborio rice to a pan with butter, shallots, and garlic.
Add the rice, remaining salt and pepper, and white wine. Cook until almost all of the wine is absorbed.

Simple Technique for Cooking Risotto

I already warned you that risotto is very hands on, but I also promised you simple technique. The key to a creamy risotto is cooking the rice slowly, all the while stirring love into your rice.

Simply put, you have to add your broth about ½ cup at a time and stir constantly until it’s almost all absorbed and time to add more rice.

The secret to swiftly making risotto without any hiccups is making sure your broth is warm. You can definitely have a second pot of broth going on the stove, but to me this overcomplicates things and just makes unnecessary excess mess.

I use my Pyrex measuring cup, but you can use any microwave-safe vessel (preferably with a spout) to heat your broth in the microwave to take the chill off. 3 minutes on high will do.

Continue to stir and add the broth until all 4 cups is used up. Taste to make sure the rice is cooked to your liking. If you feel it’s still underdone, you can add up to an additional ½ cup of water to get it just right.

Slowly adding vegetable broth to arborio rice to cook it al dente, about one half a cup at a time.
Add ½ cup warm vegetable broth and stir continuously until almost all of the liquid is absorbed.
Continuously adding vegetable broth slowly, stirring and absorbing in to rice each time.
Continue to add the broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring and absorbing in between, until all 4 cups are used up.

Finish with Parmesan, Parsley and Lemon Juice

Once your rice is cooked, add the Parmesan, chopped parsley and remaining tablespoon of lemon juice.

This will slightly thicken the risotto and give it an ultra-creamy texture. Give it a taste test and see if you want to add any extra salt, pepper, lemon juice, or Parm.

No shame in your Parm game—Parmesan is one of those ingredients that should be measured with your heart.

You can also opt to add a dash of crushed red pepper if you like a little kick.

Grating fresh Parmesan cheese into scallop risotto.

How to Serve Scallop Risotto

This risotto certainly holds its own and can be served as is. I like to top it with a little extra Parmesan and serve it with fresh lemon wedges and a crack of black pepper from a grinder.

If you are looking for some delicious appetizers or sides to accompany this gourmet dinner at home, here are some of my favorites:

Close up od creamy lemon risotto with golden brown pan-seared sea scallops on top.

How to Properly Store Leftover Risotto with Sea Scallops

Leftover scallop risotto will last for 3-5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

My favorite way to reheat the risotto is in a frying pan over medium-high heat with a dash of extra water or broth, stirring frequently until heated through.

You can heat the risotto and scallops together. Or, if you really want to make the most of your leftovers, remove the scallops, reheat the risotto, and then pan-fry the scallops again in some oil.

Of course, if you’re not feelin’ it, you can reheat your leftovers in the microwave. HOWEVER, the scallops will likely be rubbery. Can’t say I didn’t warn ya!

Green tip: Of the billions of pounds of food wasted annually, it is estimated that 50% of it happens in our homes. Properly storing and enjoying leftovers is a great way to reduce your individual contribution to food waste.

Want to sharpen your kitchen skills?

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Why this is the BEST Scallop Risotto Recipe on the Internet


  • It’s simple. This recipe is paired back, using only the essentials when it comes to both ingredients and equipment. Home cooks, I am speaking directly to you when I say we do NOT have to overcomplicate things to make a gourmet meal.
  • The flavor combo’s. The fresh lemon really brings out the natural flavor of the scallops and the Parmesan in there brings that creamy risotto to life.
  • The TEXTURES. 🤯 Creamy, luscious risotto contrasting with the buttery, succulent scallops. UGH my mouth is watering writing this.

If you’re loving this Scallop Risotto recipe and want more simple seafood meals that taste gourmet, check out this Creamy Halibut Chowder and Zesty Seafood Pasta Salad.

Scallop risotto served with lemon wedges on a pink plate.

One-Pot Seared Scallop Risotto with Lemon

5 from 1 vote
Marley Goldin
Print Save Rate
This Seared Scallop Risotto brings bold flavors with fresh lemon and Parmesan, using simple cooking techniques in only one pot.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 2 people

Equipment

Ingredients
 
 

  • ½ pound sea scallops
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large shallot
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ¼ cup white wine (preferably Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan (1 cup grated Parm = approx. 1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Shop Ingredients on Jupiter

Instructions
 

  • Pat your scallops dry with a paper towel (consider these bamboo paper towels ones for a more sustainable option). Then, generously season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper (you will not use all ½ teaspoons of salt and pepper at this point—we will add the rest later!).
  • Get the butter hot in the pan for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat. Then, carefully lower your scallops into the hot butter and add about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  • Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes on both sides. They should be golden-brown on both sides and reach an internal temperature of 145°F. Then, remove the scallops and set aside, leaving the lemon butter in the pan.
  • Peel and mince your garlic and peel and dice your shallot. Add them to the lemon-y butter still over medium-high heat. Stir and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes).
  • Add the rice, remaining salt and pepper, and white wine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the wine is absorbed.
  • Meanwhile, heat your vegetable broth in the microwave on high for 3 minutes to warm it up (I just do so in my Pyrex measuring cup).
  • Add ½ cup of warm broth to the rice, still over medium-high heat. Stir continuously until most of the broth is absorbed. Then, repeat this process, adding the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously each time, until all 4 cups of broth are absorbed by the rice. Taste it to make sure the rice is cooked. If it's still too firm, you can slowly add up to ½ cup water until you are happy with the texture of the rice.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat. Add the Parmesan, remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and chopped parsley.
  • Serve the risotto with the seared scallops on top. I like to add a little extra Parmesan, crack of black pepper, and lemon wedges.

Pro Tips

  • Make sure your scallops are completely defrosted before you start making this easy risotto. If you are using frozen scallops, transfer them to the refrigerator 24 hours before, or place them in a storage bag and submerge the bag in cold water for about 45 minutes.
  • If you want to keep your scallops warm while you’re cooking your risotto, place them on the bottom rack of your oven on the lowest setting (my oven has a “keep warm” setting, otherwise most ovens can be set to 170°F as their lowest temperature).

Video

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Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword One-Pot, Pescatarian, Scallop Risotto, Scallops
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