Pumpkin Risotto with Spicy Scallops

risotto w scallops n

Creamy risotto flavored with seasonal roasted pumpkin and topped with spicy scallops warm up an icy Arctic evening.

With our shared goal of making risotto this year, Arborio rice went on the annual shopping list, and recently when a tiny, 1.5 pound pumpkin arrived in our Full Circle Farms box, we decided to make it a featured ingredient in our first attempt at homemade risotto. The idea to pair spicy scallops with the risotto stemmed from the visual impact we thought they’d have: white scallops dusted with ground peppers, nutmeg and cinnamon atop a mellow-orange base. The visual was complimented by the blend of textures and flavors of this dish. Compared with more usual methods for preparing rice, the risotto was a bit labor intensive. But the results left us anticipating making this dish again soon, perhaps next time with Alaska sweet shrimp.

Pumpkin Risotto with Spicy Scallops
Serves 4

Ingredients: (We use our own blend of spices, but any good Thai-style blend such as Penzeys Spices Bangkok Blend works well.)

  • 1¼ cups pumpkin purée
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp spice blend, such as Penzeys Bangkok Blend
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 5 cups chicken broth (We use Better than Bouillon.)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tbsp goat cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • seared scallops (see below)
  • candied bacon (see below)


  1. Stir together pumpkin purée and cream in a small pot and bring to a simmer. If it seems too thick, stir in a few tbsp of chicken broth.
  2. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove mixture from heat. Season with spice blend, salt and pepper.
  3. Add ¼ cup of butter to the pumpkin mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Stir until smooth.
  4. Pour the pumpkin mixture into a bowl and set aside.
  5. Pour the chicken broth into a medium pot and warm over low heat.
  6. Place a large pan such as a sautoir (a sauté pan with high, straight sides) or a pot over medium heat and melt the remaining 2 tbsp butter and olive oil.
  7. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes.
  8. Add the rice and sauté for 3 to 5 minute or until each grain of rice is coated in oil and there is a white dot in the center of each grain.
  9. Begin adding the warm broth to the rice, one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently.
  10. Each time the liquid evaporates, add another ladle of broth and continue to stir.
  11. Continue to add liquid and stir until the rice is al dente, 20-25 minutes.
  12. Stir in the pumpkin mixture until completely combined.
  13. Stir in the goat cheese and parmesan until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  14. Place 3 seared scallops atop a portion of risotto.
  15. Finish dish with candied bacon just prior to serving.

Spicy Scallops


  • 12 large scallops, cleaned
  • 1 tbsp spicy seasoning mix, for example Penzeys Bangkok blend (Optional: add sesame seeds to the spice blend)
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Lightly roll each scallop in spice mix and sprinkle with salt
  3. Using tongs or chopsticks to maneuver scallops, quickly sear each one on each side – a few seconds on each side. Do not overcook.
  4. Serve immediately.

Candied Bacon


  • 4 strips of thick cut bacon, chopped into micro pieces
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar


  1. Heat skillet over medium high heat
  2. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until the fat has rendered off and the bacon has just become crispy.
  3. Drain all but 2 tsp of grease from the pan and return to the stove, over medium heat.
  4. Sprinkle brown sugar over the bacon and stir vigorously until the sugar melts and coats the bacon.
  5. Spread the candied bacon onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and allow to cool and slightly harden.

18 thoughts on “Pumpkin Risotto with Spicy Scallops

  1. B – I live in a shellfish free zone at Casa TSL. And I adore scallops. They are one of the first things I look for on a restaurant menu. My sister and I used to free-dive for them as teenagers in NZ. (Sigh) This looks SO good!

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