Saffron and Seafood Risotto


I struggled to name this dish.  When I made it, I thought of calling it “Paella Risotto” – it combines the flavors associated to paellas with Arborio rice in the foolproof risotto cooking technique.  Shushing my (not so inner) etymology nerd, I decided against it because paella refers to the actual pan where the rice is cooked and the dish is traditionally referred to as ‘arroz a la paella’.  After listening to Annie Siboney, the hostess of Cooking Channel’s “From Spain with Love”, say that authentic paella does not have chorizo I opted for the alliteration filled saffron and seafood risotto.  As some British dude wrote once: “What’s in a name…”  I will be working on a “real” paella soon, though.  DH ordered our first pan to use it on top of our charcoal grill after considering it for a few weeks.

I have (had?) some prized ingredients sitting in the pantry for a while: the balsamic vinegar and artichoke risotto mixes from last year’s trip, saffron my MIL brought us back from Spain a couple of years ago, one last container of a fancy seafood stock base I bought when I made shrimp etouffee, oils and vinegars from Marshall’s/HomeGoods that I don’t know if I’ll ever find again, etc.  When we buy or receive these items, we tend to store them,  think of all the great things that can be prepared, and just leave them there. When I made this risotto, I was completely burnt-out after a tough work week and a day filled with housework.  I took the stock base and the saffron from their little pedestal in cupboard.  They were meant to be used!  Life is too short to hoard condiments ‘for a special occasion’.  Any Saturday I get to spend home, enjoying my kitchen and DH’s company is more than special. If we could apply the same thinking to some of our wine bottles…

GF 360° Saffron and Seafood Risotto
(Four main course servings)

The Cooking Liquid

  • 5 cups of fish or seafood stock (homemade or a base)
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads

Crumble the saffron threads and mix them into the fish or seafood stock.  Bring the stock up to a simmer so it can be added to the rice by the ladleful.

The Sofrito

  • 1 tablespooon olive oil
  • 1 chorizo link (3-4 ounces), diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Add the olive oil to the risotto pan and warm over medium heat.  Toss in the chorizo and cook for four minutes.  After they render some of their reddish fat, add the onions and cook until soft.  Ad the garlic, tomato, and paprika and cook for two more minutes until fragrant.

The Rice

  • 1 1/2 cup Arborio Rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth

Add the rice to the pan and cook until the grains become shiny and translucent.  Deglace the pan with the wine, and scrape up all the browned bits.  Start adding the cooking liquid with a ladle, and stirring to activate the starch in the rice.  As it becomes absorbed continue adding liquid and stirring.  Carefully season with salt and black pepper to taste – the chorizo and seafood base can be very salty.

The Seafood

  • 20 large (not jumbo) shrimp
  • 8 scallops

While the risotto is cooking, brush an indoor grilling pan with canola or grapeseed oil and bring it to high heat.  Season the seafood with salt and pepper.  Grill the seafood until the shrimp barely turn pink and the scallops are seared on the outside.  Set aside.  You could also grill squid/calamari, octopus, or any other seafood you like.  We used what we had on hand that day.


  • 3/4 cup defrosted sweet peas
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Asparagus spears
  • Roasted red or piquillo peppers, sliced

When the rice is al dente (before adding the last ladleful of stock), add the sweet peas to the risotto pan.  Add the stock and when the liquid evaporates, add the butter and mix to combine.  Nestle the seafood and asparagus spears and garnish with the red peppers.

This is what it looks like… after we’re back for seconds!

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Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

18 Responses to “Saffron and Seafood Risotto”

  1. purabi naha
    June 28, 2011 at 11:27 am #

    Oh, the saffron risotto is in itself so yummy and if you add seafood, it would be no less than being called “heavenly”. Wonderful.

  2. Kathy
    June 28, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    This dish looks wonderful! I also get these fabulous culinary gifts that I seem to hoard…Until I realize they have an expiration date!

  3. Yuri
    June 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    It does look like paella 🙂 I love the bright color and flavor of saffron. I can’t remember the last time I had paella…. *craving now*

  4. ballsandpie
    June 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm #

    Looks delicious, whatever you call it. Also: Bonus points for Lagniappe.

  5. Adriana
    June 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm #

    @Pie – I think most of the recipes I actually write out have lagniappe.  For the uninitiated, 'lagniappe' is New Orleans speak for 'a little something extra'.  It is thought to be derived from the Spanish "la ñapa", which means the same.  

  6. Liz
    June 28, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    I love paella and I know I’d love this gorgeous risotto!!! Beautiful!

  7. Ryan
    June 29, 2011 at 3:21 am #

    Wow, this is beautiful– so colorful. I love the colors of the peppers, peas, and saffron and they sound so good with the risotto! I would love to have a big plate of this right now!!!!

  8. yummychunklet
    June 29, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    This sounds and looks like a stunning dish. I can’t wait to try it!

  9. Belinda @zomppa
    June 30, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    What a fragrant and beautiful dish – scallops and saffron? This is stunning!

    June 30, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    That risotto sounds ammmmazing!! Beautiful meal, indeed.

  11. Cher
    July 1, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    That looks lovely! Love the thought of switching out the rice with the same flavors.I am such a spice/ condiment hoarder. It’s not even funny. Everytime I go anywhere, I pick up “stuff” and wait for the “perfect occasion”. (Just picked up a jar of fig-tangerine basalmic on vacation….)

  12. Chris and Amy
    July 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

    We love the components in this risotto. Must have been deee-lish!

  13. EasyCookingInTh
    July 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    This looks great…I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing:)

  14. Aarthi
    July 5, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    Hai DearThis looks yummy….you have a lovely blog…Please check out my blog..It is for food lovers and person who love to cook..You could find so many recipes that you can easily try at home..I update this blog on a regular basis…So please follow me and motivate me..Thank youhttp://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.comAarthi

  15. July 14, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    This looks really rich and delicious. I’ll be trying this soon!

  16. July 14, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Looks great!!!!

  17. July 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    I immediately thought of paella before I started to read you post. Thanks for the interesting information about paella being more about the pan than the rice. Whatever it’s called, it looks absolutely delicious!


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