A perfectly seared scallop atop earthy, creamy mushroom risotto... A perfect starter course for a special occasion, or a main dish with additional scallops! Seared Scallop With Mushroom Risotto is an elegant starter or show-stopping main dish with a salad or vegetable side!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
I've been working on our Valentine's Day menu for a couple of weeks. Seared Scallop With Mushroom Risotto makes a lovely starter course, but you may consider it a main course as well; simply adjust the portions. Valentine's Day is for lovers... and retail of course. 😉
When I originally published this recipe, we "pulled out all the stops" for our Valentine's Day celebration in 2016. We started our meal with a single seared scallop over a small scoop of mushroom risotto (leftovers are great the next day!), followed by Grilled Lamb Chops With Bleu Cheese Herb Butter and Mulled Red Wine and Plum Sorbet.
One thing is certain - restaurants do more than "brisk" business on Valentine's Day, and this crowd-hating girl would rather cook for her love than wait to be served at a busy restaurant! I don't remember not preparing a special meal for the two of us on Valentine's Day, and we've been married now 39 years...
Light a couple of candles, open a bottle of wine, and enjoy good conversation with your beloved while you make this spectacular, romantic dinner for two!
Who, being loved, is poor?
~~ A Woman of No Importance, Oscar Wilde
Can I Make a Good Risotto?
Risotto is not a comfortable dish for many home cooks. If you love to cook, and are reasonably good at it, you can in all likelihood make a delicious pot of risotto. 😉 Don't let this dish intimidate you! It is actually more successfully cooked in your kitchen than in the kitchen of a fine restaurant.
Risotto needs to be prepared in small batches, and eaten right away. Restaurants simply can't give it the attention you can at home. It does require frequent stirring, and special care must be taken to cook just long enough to achieve al denté (still firm-to-the-bite tender) grains.
Making A Perfectly Seared Scallop
As a starter course, the dish is topped with 1 perfectly seared large sea scallop. If there's only one scallop sitting atop your mushroom risotto, you want to make a gorgeous seared scallop!
The key to a good sear on the scallop lies in removing as much moisture as possible. If you're fortunate enough to get "dry" scallops rather than "wet," you can skip this step. A simple soak in water with sea salt and lemon juice, followed by a thorough pat down with dry towels does the trick.
I discuss this process further in my Irish Scallop Bisque post. For this dish, I like to sear the scallop in white truffle oil to complement the earthy flavors in the risotto. I collect fine salts, and sprinkle these beauties with a bit of Hawaiian red salt, and of course, freshly ground pepper.
Are Scallops Healthy?
YES. Scallops pack tons of flavor and nutrition in 94 calories. 3 ounces contain about 20 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 0 carbs. They're an excellent source of B12, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, iron, and others.
Cooking method, of course, can get you in trouble when counting calories. We are not adding a lot of fat in searing the scallops, and they're not breaded or covered with sauce. For more on scallops see Are Scallops Safe to Eat? Nutrition, Benefits and More.
Making the Mushroom Risotto
Risotto, with its origins in northern Italy, is typically served as primo (first course). Risotto is cooked slowly in broth and wine, allowing the grains to release their starch, creating a lovely creamy consistency.
While I have used barley as a flavorful stand-in for my Pumpkin Barley Risotto, authentic Italian risotto is made with short or medium grain rice that is high starch (amylopectin) and low amylose. Arborio is the only rice I have found in the United States that is suitable for risotto. This short-grained rice yields risotto that is creamy, chewy, and firm to the bite. The finished dish should be creamy, never gloppy!
Is Risotto Healthy?
The short answer? NO. We most definitely consider risotto to be a special occasion splurge dish... and love it about once a year. Between the oil to start the process, the carbs in the white arborio rice, and the cheese used to finish it, you're looking at about 300 calories with just 1 scallop, and about 33 grams of carbs.
My lifelong approach to a healthy "diet" is to keep track of overall carbs and calories. I typically stick to whole grain and fiber-rich carbs, but if I indulge in a dish like this one, I cut them from another meal. THIS WORKS.
For my gluten sensitive readers, Seared Scallop with Mushroom Risotto is gluten free. Enjoy it without concern!
- Prep the ingredients - Cover the porcini (if using) with boiling water. Chop the shallots, mince the garlic, and slice the crimini or button mushrooms. Put your broth in a medium saucepan on medium-high heat and maintain a low simmer.
- Start the risotto - Using a good quality, fairly heavy pan (I like my enameled cast iron small dutch oven), heat the truffle oil, add the shallot and minced garlic. Sauté until translucent. Add the mushrooms and arborio rice, and saute until the mushrooms begin to brown. De-glaze the pot with wine or sherry. Add the thyme leaves, and salt and pepper.
- Begin adding broth/stock - When most of the wine is absorbed, add the porcini liquid (if not using, see notes). Chop the drained porcini and add them to the pot. Continue adding hot broth as the liquid is absorbed, stirring often. This process will take about 30 minutes +/-.
- Cook the scallops - Pat the scallops dry on all sides. Coat a sauté pan with truffle or olive oil. Bring the pan almost to the smoke point. Place the scallops in the very hot pan. Cook until nicely caramelized, then turn. Season with sea salt and pepper. Time this step to coincide with the completion of the risotto.
- Finish the risotto - At about 25 minutes, taste a grain. It should be firm but tender, and the mixture should be creamy. When the rice is al dente (firm but tender to the bite), stir in the grated cheese.
- Serve - On a small dinner plate, spoon one-fourth of the risotto. Top with a scallop (or scallops). Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and enjoy!
🍷 Pairing Suggestions
As you can see in my photos, we love this dish with a rosé... a crisp, dry rosé. With year 'round summer in McAllen and all the fresh seafood, we find this versatile wine goes with most meals. A sauvignon blanc is always a good choice with seafood, as its citrus, herbal, grassy minerality pairs really well!
I hope that you will set your sights high, and give Seared Scallop with Mushroom Risotto a try. 😀 Mark and I will enjoy it as a first course, followed by something creative featuring lamb chops, and of course, a light and lovely dessert. More to come on that later... Soft jazz, candlelight, a bottle of wine, and a quiet evening with my man wins "hands down" over our crowded local restaurants.