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Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Seared Scallops

Picture this: perfectly cooked risotto, velvety and rich, infused with delicate flavors of lemon and asparagus spears dancing gracefully among seared scallops that are crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside. Brace yourselves, because we’re about to embark on a journey of pure deliciousness with our mouthwatering recipe for Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Seared Scallops.

creamy risotto with asparagus and seared scallops
Creamy Parmesan Risotto with Asparagus and Pan Seared Scallops

What is the secret to the best risotto?

This is my favorite risotto recipe. It’s creamy, decadent, and chockful of parmesan flavor. In addition to the spectacular taste, it’s so perfectly versatile that any protein is great with this risotto. This recipe is not a shortcut, it requires stirring and is part of risotto making, however, the results are well worth the workout on the wrist.

The secret to a delicious risotto is patience. In addition to patience, get the stovetop heat just right so that the liquid absorbs at the right pace so that the rice plumps and is tender to the bite. My last tip is not to skimp on the freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese. Freshly grated or shredded cheese is always the most flavorful. I rarely purchase pre-shredded cheese of any kind because the taste is never going to be as sharp as fresh grated or shredded cheese.

What is the best rice for risotto?

The best rice for risotto is Arborio. Two reasons: it’s easy to find in most grocery stores. Second, it’s just about foolproof. I’ve used Carnaroli rice which I purchased from Eataly here in Los Angeles, but Arborio I find works best. The question that comes up often is why you have to use a special rice for this dish. The kinds of rice used for risotto are typically starchy, Italian rice and they cook within the typical 20 minutes or so. Risotto rice is a medium-grain, Italian rice. The rice plumps when liquid is absorbed during the cooking process. In addition, the rice releases starch content to help create a creamy consistency in the finished dish. Risotto in general is an easy dish that is completely adaptable. You can add a variety of vegetables and proteins to customize the dish to suit your taste.

I have some more in-depth information on risotto rice in my Easy Pumpkin Risotto recipe post. You can find Arborio rice typically in the Italian specialty area of large grocery stores and grocery stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods, and the like.

Ingredients for Creamy risotto with asparagus and seared scallops

  • 1/2 pound of asparagus, roasted and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • olive oil drizzle
  • 2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth, warmed to a slow simmer
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup of freshly grated *Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (see note)
  • Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
  • Zest of half lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt + pinch for scallops and asparagus
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound large or extra large dry, sea scallops. Patted dry.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Lemon cut into wedges for serving

*Note: Use freshly grated, Parmigiano Reggiano to elevate the risotto flavor. If you can’t find it, American Parmesan, freshly grated, will work just fine.

ingredients for creamy risotto with asparagus
Ingredients for Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Seared Scallops

Suggested kitchen equipment for making this risotto

I suggest a large, wide skillet or Dutch oven for the risotto. Use a small, 2-quart saucepan to keep the broth on a slow simmer while making the risotto.

Since the scallops will be seared, the best piece of kitchen equipment for this is a heavy-bottomed stainless steel skillet or a nonstick pan also works well.

How to make lemon Parmesan Risotto

It’s important to note that with this risotto recipe, it’s necessary to have all ingredients in place and ready to go. While you are gathering ingredients, heat the vegetable broth to a simmer and then turn down the heat to keep it on a low simmer. 

Preheat oven to 400°F. (for asparagus)

Wash and dry asparagus spears. Place on a baking sheet and add a little drizzle of olive oil. Add a pinch of Kosher salt. Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender. If you are using very thin asparagus, roast for about 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and chop into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Preheat a heavy, wide saucepan or Dutch/French oven over medium heat. See the note below about large burner stoves.

Note about stove heat for risotto

Many new stoves have larger burners where medium heat is quite hot, for this dish, if you have an extra large burner, you should set it to medium-low. Heat should be warm enough to keep the mixture active but not low enough to struggle to cook down.

Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and once melted, add onion and sauté. Allow to soften until translucent not browned, about 4 minutes. Add rice and sauté about 1 minute and allow the rice to be coated completely with the butter and onions. Do not toast the rice.

Add wine, stir, until the wine has almost evaporated about 3 minutes.

Now add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir into the rice mixture until almost completely absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of simmering broth and continue to stir rice mixture until almost completely absorbed. Make sure you continue to stir the risotto with each addition of broth until fully absorbed. The key is for the rice to slowly absorb the broth to allow the starch of the rice to thicken the mixture and also for the rice to cook until tender.

Repeat until all broth is used. You will see the risotto get thicker, and creamier as you go. The total process will take about 20 minutes and rice will be creamy and tender in the end.

About 5 minutes before the risotto is done, start preheating the skillet for the sea scallops.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, roasted asparagus pieces, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese into the risotto. Stir gently until all ingredients are fully combined and the risotto is creamy and thick. Add kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

How to perfectly pan-sear scallops

Preheat the skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil ensuring the entire bottom of the skillet is covered with oil. Place scallops carefully onto the hot skillet one at a time. Do not crowd the pan with the scallops. The secret is for the scallops to have enough room to get that golden brown sear. If they are too close to each other they will steam and you won’t get that beautiful golden crust. Add a pinch of kosher salt.

Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes and then turn. After two minutes the scallops should release from the pan on their own and they should be nice and golden brown. When you turn the scallops, add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter to the pan and sear for about 2 more minutes.

How to serve Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Seared Scallops

The risotto should be finished at the same time the scallops are finished. In shallow bowls, place about one-quarter of the Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and place a quarter of the scallops on top of the creamy risotto. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and a fresh squeeze of lemon on top. Serve immediately.

This recipe is perfect with a simple Green Salad or my Grilled Romaine and Radicchio Caesar Salad.

close up of creamy risotto, scallops, asparagus and lemon

Frequently asked questions, tips, and substitutes

Can I use another type of seafood for this risotto?

Yes. Shrimp works well as does pan-seared salmon for this recipe.

What other type of rice can I use if I can’t find Arborio rice?

Bomba or Calrose rice will also work, but I highly recommend Arborio rice.

Can I substitute asparagus with another vegetable?

The following vegetables work well with this recipe: roasted broccoli, roasted Brussels sprouts, cooked peas or sautéed green beans.

Can I make this risotto vegan?

Yes, use vegan alternative butter, vegetable broth, and vegan parmesan cheese. You can top it with any vegetable variations noted above.

How to store leftovers.

I recommend separating the cooked scallops from the risotto. Place cooked scallops in a container with a tight-fitting lid. For re-heating, I recommend reheating thoroughly in a pan on the stovetop.
For risotto, place it in another container with a tight-fitting lid. To reheat, place risotto in a pan and add a little vegetable broth, and heat through on low heat on the stovetop.

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creamy risotto with pan seared scallops close up

Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and Seared Scallops

Ana P @ Claudia’s Table
December 6, 2023
Brace yourselves, because we're about to embark on a journey of pure deliciousness with our mouthwatering recipe for Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and seared Scallops.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Servings 4
Calories 827 kcal

Equipment

  • 1 Dutch Oven or heavy bottom pan for risotto
  • 1 skillet, large for scallops
  • 1 saucepan 2 quart
  • 1 baking sheet for asparagus

Ingredients
  

Roasted asparagus

  • 1/2 pound of Asparagus roasted and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • olive oil drizzle

Risotto

  • 2 cups Arborio rice Italian specialty rice for risotto
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth warmed to a simmer
  • 1/2 cup white wine dry
  • 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese freshly, grated
  • 5 tablespoons butter, unsalted divided
  • 1/2 fresh lemon juice of
  • 1/2 lemon zest of
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Pan seared scallops

  • 1 pound sea scallops, large or extra large dry Patted dry.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 whole Lemon cut into wedges for serving

Instructions
 

Warm broth

  • Heat the broth to a slow simmer and then turn down the heat to keep it on a low simmer.

Roast asparagus

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Wash and dry asparagus spears. Place on a baking sheet and add a little drizzle of olive oil. Add a pinch of Kosher salt.
  • Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender. If using very thin asparagus, roast for about 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven and chop into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Creamy Parmesan Risotto

  • Preheat a heavy wide saucepan or Dutch/French oven over medium heat.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter and once melted, add onion and sauté. Allow to soften until translucent not browned, about 4 minutes. Add rice and sauté about 1 minute and allow the rice to be coated completely with the butter and onions. Do not toast the rice.
  • Add wine, stir, and allow to cook until the wine has almost evaporated about 3 minutes.
  • Now add 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed. Add another 1/2 cup of simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed.
  • Make sure you continue to stir the risotto with each addition of broth until fully absorbed. The key is for the rice to slowly absorb the broth to allow the starch of the rice to thicken the mixture and also for the rice to cook until tender.
  • Repeat until all broth is used. You will see the risotto get thicker, and creamier as you go. The total process will take about 20 minutes and rice will be creamy and tender in the end.
  • About 5 minutes before the risotto is done, start preheating the skillet for the sea scallops.
  • Stir in 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, roasted asparagus pieces, lemon juice, lemon zest, and parmesan cheese into the risotto. Stir gently until all ingredients are fully combined and the risotto is creamy and thick. Add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

How to perfectly pan-sear scallops

  • Preheat the skillet until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil ensuring the entire bottom of the skillet is covered with oil. Place scallops carefully onto the hot skillet one at a time. Do not crowd the pan with the scallops. The secret is for the scallops to have enough room to get that golden brown sear. If they are too close to each other they will steam and you won't get that beautiful golden crust. Add a pinch of kosher salt.
  • Sear the scallops for about 2 minutes and then turn. After two minutes the scallops should release from the pan on their own and they should be nice and golden brown. When you turn the scallops, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and sear for about 2 more minutes.

How to serve Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and seared Scallops

  • The risotto should be finished at the same time the scallops are finished. In shallow bowls, place about two cups of the Creamy Risotto with Asparagus and place a quarter of the scallops on top of the creamy risotto.
  • Top with freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese and a fresh squeeze of lemon on top. Enjoy!

Notes

This recipe serves 4 as a main dish and 6-8 as a first course or starter. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 827kcal

Nutritional information is calculated online and should be used as a guide.

Keyword lemon risotto, lemon risotto with asparagus, pan seared scallops, parmesan risotto

All content and photographs ©Claudia’s Table and claudiastable.com

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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