Cauliflower Risotto & Seared Sea Scallops

Well, safe to say I’m back in the swing of things…trudging to class with a backpack half my body weight (most likely coming late due to the massive clusterf*ck that they claim is the student parking lot) and just praying a cup of coffee will fall from the sky and land in my mouth.

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Hello, second year of grad school. Broke ass student life, we meet again.

When stress (and hunger…) strikes, all the more reason to get down and dirty in the kitchen for a healthy dinner, yas?

Sea scallops are often overlooked at the seafood counter. POR QUE?! I’m just gonna throw this out there: don’t skid passed the scallops because along with their buttery flavor and tender chew, they’re an excellent source of vitamin B12–a muy importante nutrient for keeping nerve and blood cells healthy, preventing dementia, assisting digestion, and providing energy. They’re also a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, code for eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are heavily praised for their protective role in heart health. These rich sea-dwelling little cushions are carefully seared and plated over creamy risotto, but hold le cream! Instead, cauliflower (rich in vitamin C, K, folate, and B vitamins) is whipped up with antibacterial garlic, vitamin B12-rich nutritional yeast, and detoxifying fresh lemon.

Rich, ohhhh so rich. But even a poor grad student like myself can enjoy. Win-win.

Cauliflower Risotto & Seared Sea Scallops

Makes 6-8 servings of risotto and 3-4 servings scallops

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups low sodium-veggie broth + 1 cup water
  • 1-2 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp black pepper + more for scallop seasoning
  • 2-3 tsp Miso paste (I used low-sodium red…you can leave this out and add more salt if ya want, but I like the umami flavor it brings)
  • 2 T unsweetened plain non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 of 1 fresh lemon (juice + zest)
  • 2 T fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil, separated
  • 1/2 lb fresh dry-packed wild sea scallops
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Before you do anything, place whole cloves of garlic in tin foil, pre heat the oven to 450 and put those suckers in there while you’re doing other kitchen-y thangs. Keep a timer on for 25-30 minutes, and remove when garlic is golden brown with a soft, creamy texture.
  2. Get the brown rice going: cook according to the package or using a rice cooker.
  3. In a large pot, bring veggie broth and water to a rapid boil.  Add cauliflower pieces and boil about 10 minutes, until cauliflower is tender. Drain.
  4. In a high speed blender, put the non-dairy milk in first, then add cauliflower pieces. Whirl until pureed.  Next add in the nutritional yeast, pepper, miso, roasted garlic, and juice from ONLY 1/4 of the lemon…Do not add in zest yet. If you’re too lazy to roast the garlic into toasty deliciousness, just add in 2 whole raw cloves. Toss in the fresh thyme and blend away until a thick, liquid consistency. Taste test to see if it needs salt; miso can be very different and if omitting completely, you will mos def need more salt.
  5. When the rice is done, pour the cauliflower cream sauce over it, add the peas, stir, and set aside.
  6. In a large skillet, heat 1 T oil over medium-high. Add the shallots (or onion, if using) and saute for 2-3 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Add the mushrooms and cook another 4-5 minutes, until mushrooms begin to shrivel and soften.
  7. Pour the rice/cream mixture over the shallots/mushrooms and stir well until fully mixed.
  8. Set aside.  Remove the tiny muscle on the side of the scallop first…if you have never cooked these tasty babies, click here for more detailed instructions!  Pat dry with a towel and rub with salt and pepper, to taste.
  9. Bring a skillet to medium high, heat remaining 1 T oil and then put the scallops in.  The pan should sizzle when you throw them in.  Cook each scallop about 2-3 minutes, until golden brown, then squeeze remaining lemon juice over, and flip over carefully.  Cook the other side for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown.  Flesh should be soft but firm to touch, like well-set jello, tops and bottoms light brown, and sides still white…nommmms.
  10. Serve the scallops over the risotto immediately, garnishing each one with lemon zest and fresh thyme.


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