Basil Pesto Risotto with Pan-Roasted Scallops


Fine dining does not have to be complicated and with this creamy risotto you will see why. This is an amazing dish that will have your guests or family wanting to see your culinary degree.

Prep Time:
20 mins
Cook Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs
2 servings



  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 1 cup fresh spinach

  • ¼ cup pine nuts

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese, or to taste

  • ground black pepper to taste


  • 2 cups chicken stock

  • 1 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots

  • 1 cup Arborio rice

  • 1 pinch saffron (Optional)

  • cup white wine

  • cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese


  • 4 sea scallops

  • kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil


  1. Place basil, spinach, and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to chop. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a steady stream until pesto is creamy, stopping to scrape down sides. Stir in 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese and black pepper with a spoon.

  2. Heat chicken stock and water in separate saucepans over medium heat until simmering, about 5 minutes; reduce heat, cover, and keep warm.

  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add shallots; cook and stir until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and saffron; stir until coated with butter. Pour in wine and simmer until absorbed, about 5 minutes.

  4. Pour enough warm stock into the saucepan to barely cover the rice; cook and stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock, and then water, stirring constantly, until each addition is absorbed and rice is tender yet firm to the bite and risotto is thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.

  5. Spoon pesto into risotto. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

  6. Pat scallops dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

  7. Melt 2 tablespoons butter with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Arrange scallops in the hot skillet and cook, without touching, until deep golden brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Flip each scallop and sear on the second side until golden brown, about 2 minutes more.

  8. Serve scallops over risotto.

Cook's Notes:

Substitute arugula for the spinach for a more peppery taste in the pesto if desired. Substitute pistachios for the pine nuts if preferred.

Add 4 to 5 pimento peppers marinated in olive oil, centers removed, to the pesto if desired.

Remove scallops from the refrigerator 20 to 30 minutes before cooking to drain out excess water.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

1046 Calories
58g Fat
93g Carbs
33g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 2
Calories 1046
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 58g 74%
Saturated Fat 22g 109%
Cholesterol 110mg 37%
Sodium 1475mg 64%
Total Carbohydrate 93g 34%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 10mg 49%
Calcium 281mg 22%
Iron 6mg 31%
Potassium 587mg 12%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.