Scallops and Orzo Risotto

This pan seared sea scallop and orzo risotto is easy to make, deliciously filling, and looks beautiful on the plate. The light flavor of the scallops goes really well with the broth flavored orzo and the lemon adds a zesty twist that binds the ingredients together. It’s a bit of a misnomer for me to call this dish a risotto since risottos are made with rice, but the same cooking techniques apply here.

Personally, the flavors in this dish hit a nostalgic note for me because it was like a hearty classier version of my mother’s idea of chicken soup. Whenever my brother and I were sick growing up, my mother would boil some chicken broth, drop in some orzo, add some chopped onion along with small bits of chicken, and finally add a squeeze of lemon at the end. The same ingredients are at work in this dish (minus the chicken), which is why it feels like comfort food to me.

I really wish that I could take credit for this recipe because it came out so incredibly well. Instead, I will just have to accept the privilege of writing out this recipe created by a guest blogger for me in my kitchen. One benefit to having someone else cook for me (other than the obvious eating without any effort) is that I managed to take photos with relative ease and even managed to capture some action shots.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

Makes 2 servings of 385 calories each or 770 calories total.

Scallops with Orzo Ingredients


  • 1 pound of sea scallops (about 400 cal.)
  • 3/4 cup orzo pasta (about 210 cal.)
  • 1 cup of chicken/vegetable broth (about 5 cal.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion or 1 small onion chopped (about 20 cal.)
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (about 120 cal.)
  • 1/2 lemon (about 5 cal.)
  • 3 cloves of garlic finely chopped (about 10 cal.)
  • salt
  • black pepper


  • cutting board
  • knife
  • large non-stick pan
  • wooden spoon
  • tablespoon and cup measurements
  • small/medium bowl
  • paper towels


  1. Lay down some paper towels on a counter or tabletop and then rinse the scallops under cold water.
  2. Before placing the scallops on the paper towels, feel around the edge of the scallop for a muscle flap that you can either tear off with you hand or use a knife to remove it. This muscle flap can get tough when cooked, so you don’t want that ruining the texture of your scallops.

    Removing Scallop Flaps
    Don’t worry. Those aren’t my dainty manicured hands.
  3. After removing the muscle flap, lay the scallops on the paper towels, cover them with another layer of paper towels and pat them dry. Scallops Drying on Paper Towels
  4. Let them sit like that for a few of minutes so that they are as dry as possible (without hardening). That allows you to get a really nice sear.
  5. Once dry, remove the top layer of paper towels and sprinkle some fresh ground black pepper on the scallops. Scallops with Fresh Cracked Pepper
  6. Set the stove to medium heat and add in 1 tablespoon of olive oil to get the oil hot, but not smoking.
  7. Place half of the scallops into the pan and sear them on one side for 1.5 to 2 minutes. Pan Searing Scallops
  8. Flip the scallops over and sear the other side as well so that you get a nice golden brown color. Pan Seared Scallops
  9. Remove the scallops from the pan after searing both sides and set them aside in a small bowl. Put the rest of the scallops in the pan and repeat the searing process.
  10. Give half of a lemon a few generous squeezes over the scallops while they are in the bowl. Scallops in a Bowl with Lemon Juice
  11. After searing all of the scallops, use the same pan and add in the chopped onions to saute them until they have some color. Then add in the garlic and keep stirring the onions and garlic together until the garlic is fragrant and the onions are semi-translucent. Sauteed Onions
  12. Add the 3/4 cup of Orzo to the onions and stir all of the ingredients together. Adding Orzo to the Pan
  13. Keep stirring the ingredients for a couple of minutes so that the orzo toasts a bit with the onion and garlic. Toasting Orzo in a Frying Pan
  14. Once the ingredients are well mixed, add in a little bit of the chicken/vegetable stock (maybe 1/4 cup) to the orzo in the pan. Adding Stock to the Orzo Risotto
  15. Mix the broth with the orzo and bring the broth to a simmer. Keep stirring the mixture until the broth absorbs into the orzo and it looks like the orzo needs more liquid.
  16. Alternate between adding water and broth while repeating the simmering and stirring process until the orzo is tender, but still a little al dente. The starch from the orzo will naturally thicken the liquid.Orzo Risotto Simmering
  17. Add in half of the chopped parsley and simmer it along with the orzo until it wilts a bit.
  18. Add the scallops (with the juices in the bowl) back in the orzo and add in the rest of the chopped parsley.  Scallops Added to Orzo Risotto with Parsley
  19. Mix the scallops with the orzo and reheat the scallops for a couple of minutes so that all of the ingredients can blend together. Scallops and Orzo Risotto Simmering
  20. Put half of the orzo on a plate and garnish with any extra parsley to make one serving. Add salt to taste. Scallops and Orzo Risotto

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