Lemon Butter Scallops With Spring Risotto
The perfect Springtime dinner has arrived in this lemon butter scallops with spring risotto meal! Flavorful, buttery, and tender scallops paired with a delicious risotto with peas and asparagus, so incredible!
Now that Spring is here and we’re getting used to all that it brings, I am living my best life. Catch me at the farmers markets all season long, how ’bout dat! Also, I finally did some major house cleaning and organizing last week too! Listen, you really don’t know how much things you own until you do a nice deep cleaning. The house is looking better after some rearranging and new furniture placement, ya girl is happy. There’s some saying about how cluttered spaces equal a cluttered mind; maybe a smidge of truth in that, ha!
One of my favorite things to do around my sun-filled city of Tampa, is peruse new-to-me spots such as Heights Seafood Co. I found myself in their neck of the woods a few weeks ago and was like a true kid in a candy store with all the options. They sell freshly caught local sustainable seafood with eats like oysters, conch fritters, salmon, lobster, grouper, crab, and scallops. I’ll be honest, I don’t personally eat a whole ton of seafood, I stick to my faves. Scallops are one of them and I knew I had to share a scallops recipe with you!
What Are Scallops Made From?
Very good question! Scallops are bivalve (having two hinged shells) mollusks that are very similar to clams, oysters, and mussels. This type of shellfish makes up the interior white meaty muscle of its shell. You can find scallops in oceans across the world. Additionally, there are a few varieties of scallops known but most known are bay scallops and sea scallops; also known as wet (bay) and dry (sea) scallops.
Bay scallops are considered “wet” because they come pre-brined in a solution for a longer shelf life; they’re also smaller in size and less expensive than sea scallops. You’ll find bay scallops used in a lot of seafood stew recipes. They have a more sweeter and tender taste to them. On the other hand, sea scallops are “dry” due to them not being pre-brined; they’re bigger in size (up to 3x larger!) and considered the preferred choice among chefs and home cooks. Sea scallops are freshly harvested and more expensive due to this.
Other Great Recipes To Try
- Southern Collard Greens
- The Perfect Classic Meatloaf
- Creamy Rasta Pasta
- Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- Red Wine Braised Short Ribs
- Brown Stew Chicken
- Easy Skillet Lasagna
- Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
So, What Do Scallops Taste Like?
For this recipe we will be using delicious sea scallops, also known as jumbo/giant scallops. They have a slightly sweet, succulent, tender, melt-in-your-mouth, buttery flavor. Scallops have a light taste and are not considered heavy at all yet have a richness to them at the same time. And just in case you were wondering- scallops do not have a super “fishy taste” but do have a touch of briny/sea water essence to them. With a taste similar to crab and lobster but a firmer texture, they are such an indulgent treat!
How To Prepare Sea Scallops
Getting scallops ready for their delicious debut is almost too easy! If you’re working with fresh (not previously frozen) sea scallops, here is what you’ll do. Take the scallops out of the fridge to allow them to come up to room temperature at least 30 minutes before cooking. Next, take a paper towel and pat dry the scallops to absorb any moisture. Lastly, the scallops get a simple seasoning of salt and pepper. For frozen scallops, all you need to do is thaw them out completely and proceed with the above measures.
>>> Scallops are one of the easiest proteins! They’re also one of the healthiest seafoods too, if that means something to you. Scallops are super high in protein and minerals with a very low fat content.
The Best Lemon Butter Scallops
Hands down, these lemon butter scallops are one of our favorites around here! Scallops are already such a light food by themselves but this simple lemon butter touch makes kicks them up a notch. Since they are so delicate and tender; the addition of bright citrusy lemon, flavorful butter, and garlic makes for one dreamy dish! In addition to that, these lemon butter scallops could not be any easier to make, y’all.
Tips For Making The Best Scallops
- Remove the muscle: Some scallops may come with their side muscle also known as the “foot” (looks like a rectangular band of tissue that is tough) attached on them. You’ll want to remove this muscle by simply using your thumb and first finger to tear it off. Although, most store-bought scallops (Whole Foods or your local seafood fishmonger) will likely already have it removed. Just an FYI to look out for.
- Room temperature: Just like how many other proteins like steak are preferred to be at room temperature for an extra nice sear, so do scallops. And then pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture. Room temperature scallops will cook more evenly and quickly since their temperature level.
- Non-stick skillet: Some folks prefer using a cast iron pan for their scallops to be seared in and it is just fine! However, for these lemon butter scallops, I recommend using a non-stick skillet mainly due to the sauce being made in it. Cast iron skillets tend to absorb more liquids since they conduct more heat during the cooking process, we don’t want the sauce to burn quickly or dry out.
- Quick cooking method: Probably the most important of them all is the cooking process. Scallops cook very quickly! In fact, they can go from just right with the perfect texture to overcooked and rubbery in an instant. Once your pan is hot and nice, cooking scallops on both sides takes just a few minutes!
Lemon Butter Scallops With Spring Risotto
Alright, so we’ve talked about how these lemon butter scallops are amazing but let’s get into this Spring-inspired risotto, my friends! If you’re unfamiliar with risotto- it is an Italian rice dish that is cooked with stock/other liquids until it reaches a creamy consistency. This risotto is amped up with beautiful pops of green thanks to peas and asparagus which are in season right now! The vegetables add a nice bite and texture to the risotto and make this entire meal so perfect. It’s cheesy and extra flavorful too!
Let’s Make Risotto!
(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete + full instructions.)
- Melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.
- Toss in the peas and asparagus and sauté together.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a bowl and set aside.
- Add in more butter and olive oil and sauté the sliced shallots and then add in the garlic.
- Pour in the rice and stir together to allow the rice to toast.
- Stir in one cup of the stock and continue stirring until the broth is absorbed.
- Repeat the exact process until all cups of stock have been added and absorbed.
- Add in the reserved peas/asparagus and parmesan cheese and stir to combine.
- Taste the risotto and season with salt/pepper to desired taste.
- Serve the spring risotto warm alongside the lemon butter scallops.
Making Homemade Risotto 101
There is nothing like risotto; it’s creamy, flavorful, and wildly decadent. However, some people may find homemade risotto to be a bit intimidating and I get it. Risotto is not like your typical rice dish but it is so worth any effort, I promise. With just a few mindful techniques, your risotto will come out perfect! First thing, risotto requires you to put in a bit more arm work in the form of stirring more often. While it is necessary for you to stir risotto frequently, you can also give yourself some grace by taking breaks.
>>> Why do I have to stir the risotto so often? Stirring the risotto after each cup of stock is added helps to ensure that the risotto cooks evenly. Additionally, the risotto can quickly burn on the bottom of the pot while leaving the top undercooked. That continual stirring will make sure that the starchy rice fully combines and absorbs with the stock and cooks perfectly. We want that risotto creaminess on deck!
>>> Why not add the stock all at once? A lot of folks ask this and it makes total sense. Since risotto cooks slowly, adding the stock in stages allows the risotto to release its starch and cook in tandem with the liquid in batches. Again, cooking this signature dish evenly and slowly is what makes risotto, well, risotto.
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UNTIL NEXT TIME…LOVE AND BUTTER,
The perfect dinner has arrived in this lemon butter scallops with spring risotto meal! Flavorful, buttery, and tender scallops paired with a delicious risotto with peas and asparagus, so incredible!
For The Scallops
- 1 lb fresh sea scallops
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- freshly chopped parsley, for garnish- optional
For The Spring Risotto
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 8 asparagus spears, chopped into 1-inch pieces, ends trimmed
- 1 large shallot, cut into half moons and sliced thinly
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- kosher salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- To do ahead of time: Take the sea scallops out of the refrigerator and place them onto a cleaned plate to come up to room temperature on your counter before cooking the scallops.
For The Risotto
- In a large deep saucepan or dutch oven, melt one tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Once the butter/oil sizzles, toss in the peas and asparagus. Stir together and lightly sauté for about 4-5 minutes, and then use a slotted spoon to transfer the veggies to a bowl and set aside while you make the risotto.
- Add the remaining two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil into the same pot. Once sizzling, add in the shallots and stir together until they soften and become translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the minced garlic and continue cooking while stirring throughout to avoid burning the garlic, about 1 minute.
- Pour in the rice, stirring together for 1-2 minutes, rice will begin lightly toasting. Deglaze the pan by pouring in the wine and then stir the mixture together to fully incorporate.
- Stir in 1 cup of stock. Continuously stir the rice together until you see that the liquid is fully absorbed. Once absorbed, add in another 1 cup of stock, continuing to cook and stirring throughout until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat this same process until you reach the last full cup of stock and the risotto is plump. This process of adding the stock cup by cup and stirring often may seem tedious but it ensures that the risotto cooks evenly and does not burn.
- Once the last cup of stock has absorbed, turn off the heat, and add in the reserved peas/asparagus, and sprinkle in the parmesan cheese. Taste the risotto and season with salt/pepper, as desired.
For The Scallops
- Season the scallops with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Using a large non-stick skillet, add 2 tablespoons of the butter in the the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is sizzling and hot, go ahead and add the scallops into the skillet in a single layer (the first scallop you place into the skillet should sizzle immediately- if not, your pan isn’t hot enough and wait until it’s hot before adding in more scallops). Careful not to overcrowd the pan, cook the scallops in batches if you need to.
- Let the scallops fry and do not flip them until about 2-3 minutes (look for them to be lightly browned and crisply seared on the outside with an opaque center) and then flip them to cook on the other side for another 1-2 minutes- remove them from the skillet and set aside on a plate.
- Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and add in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter along with the garlic and lemon juice. Stir together thoroughly to combine and let the mixture cook for about 1 minute. Then take off the heat and add the scallops back into the skillet. Use a spoon to baste the scallops with the butter/lemon sauce all over.
Serving: Serve the lemon butter scallops warm alongside/on top of the risotto and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. Enjoy!
- Risotto can be reheated by adding in more stock/broth to help loosen.
- Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
Keywords: scallops, risotto, lemon, spring, butter, peas, asparagus