Seared Scallops with Shrimp, Herb and Spring Vegetable Risotto

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guess what?  This recipe doubles as a workout.  

No lie.  I don't kid around when it comes to replacing fun activities like cooking with dreaded activities like working out.  And if I say it on the internet, it has to be true, right?  Right. 

Monday I gave you food instead of a workout, today I'm giving you food and a workout.  I like to switch things up every now and then.  It keeps things interesting around here.

Anyone who claims that cooking does not qualify as exercise has clearly never made risotto (this includes you, Scott).  I challenge any of the naysayers to stir risotto non-stop for the requisite thirty minutes and tell me their arm (or arms if you switch off like I do) is not on fire.  I'd argue it's almost the equivalent of a few sets of rows or push ups (insert Scott's eye rolling here as well as a mumbledunderthebreath comment about me obviously not working out hard enough).

Risotto is tough business.  Not for the faint of ...arm?  

But it's oh so worth it.  You gotta trust me on this one.   The result is a creamy, rich dish with a hint of tang from the white wine and a slight nuttiness from the Parmesan cheese. 

If you stopped there, you'd still have yourself a phenomenal side dish.   Even plain Jane risotto is decadently tasty. However, when you add to that a combination of shrimp, fresh herbs, fresh spinach and peas, its like a spring time, seaside vacation party in your mouth. 

But wait, there's more... 

Scallops!  To balance the effort required to make the risotto, I decided to pair it with some simple seared scallops.  Scallops are the quickest and easiest protein to add to a meal once you master a few tricks. 

First, always buy dry or diver scallops.  "Wet" scallops have been treated with preservatives and, regardless of your best efforts, you will never be able to dry them off enough to develop a sear (the pretty, tasty browned crust).  Just ask the guy or gal  behind the counter if the scallops they're hawking are wet or dry, and if he/she looks at you utterly confused, the scallops are more than likely wet.  If you do not live close to a fish market that carries dry or diver scallops, you are still in luck if you live near a Costco.  Costco's scallops (both the fresh and the Kirkland frozen scallops) are dry scallops.  I actually used the frozen Kirkland scallops for this recipe.

Second, make sure your pan is really hot. 

That's it.  Pat the scallops dry, sprinkle them with some kosher salt and cracked pepper, and dinner is ready in 4 minutes (assuming, of course, you already made the risotto).

My advice - skip the gym tonight and use this "exercise" as your arms day.  You have my blessing.

Seared Scallops with Shrimp, Herb and Spring Vegetable Risotto
Serves:  4
Prep Time:  30 Minutes
Cook Time: 40 Minutes
Total Time:  1 hour 10 Minutes


For the Risotto:
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups arborio
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/2 cup onion minced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 cup frozen peas, thawed

3 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup chiffonade basil
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Scallops: 
1 pound of scallops
2 tablespoons coconut oil
Salt and Pepper for seasoning

In saucepan, bring broth to a boil.  Reduce to low to keep warm.  In a large flat bottom skillet with raised sides (minimum 3 inches), heat oil over high heat.  Sprinkle shrimp with salt and pepper and add to pan.  Sauté until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove and set aside.

In same pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Throw in onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add rice, stir to coat with the butter and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Add wine and cook until nearly evaporated, stirring constantly.  Add 1 cup of broth and cook until mostly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Continue to add broth 1/2 a cup at a time, stirring constantly until broth is nearly absorbed (about 20-25 minutes total).  Stir in peas  after the final 1/2 cup of broth.  Remove risotto from heat and stir in shrimp, Parmesan, spinach and basil.  Cover and let stand for three minutes (or until scallops are finished).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add coconut oil and allow oil to heat for a couple of minutes.  Dry scallops by patting them with a towel or paper towel.  Add scallops, being careful to leave at least an inch perimeter around scallops. and don't move them once they hit the pan.  Sear scallops 2 minutes per side.  Remove from skillet and serve immediately with Shrimp, Herb and Spring Vegetable Risotto.

*I used tiny shrimp, probably 61/70 count, because they were in my freezer and free.  And they worked perfect with this dish and they were certainly "cute" from a presentation perspective.  However, it took me about 45 minutes just to peel and devein them.  Uggghh.  To save time, I suggest you work with larger shrimp, or shrimp that have already been peeled and deveined and cut them up into 1 inch pieces.


  1. Yum that looks great. Love the photos too, very well taken :)

    I have never cooked with scallops but really should give it a try.

  2. Wow this is a plate full of deliciousness...I cant wait to try this...I LOVE scallops!! I have never heard about wet or dry scallops...I know you're supposed to dry them off well prior to searing...Thank you so much for this recipe and for the lick marks that are now on my computer screen, lol...<3

  3. Dave in MichJune 21, 2013

    Attempting tonight,looks beautiful, thank you.

  4. Trying this tonight! Quick question....should I buy refined or unrefined coconut oil? unrefined keeps the flavor of coconut in the dish, but says it's best for medium heat, while refined says it's better for high heat and it's been bleached and deodorized but can handle high heat (like that required for this recipe). Thanks!

    1. You need high heat to get the awesome crust on the scallops.

  5. What is the 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the list of risotto ingredients for? I don't see it in the instructions. Thanks!

  6. I going to try this tonight but it would have been so much easier if I could have printed the recipe rather than having to write it out! Looks good.

  7. I didn't note when to add the spinach ?

    1. Yes it does. After you take it off the heat with shrimp Parmesan and basil.

  8. Wish I could post a pic. Read very carefully and be prepared before actually making. Have a really good pan when making the scallops. Not sticking is very important. This recipe turned out amazing. It’s rare that I don’t want to make changes. I love this as is!!!


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