Mushroom Parmesan Risotto with Seared Scallops by Nik Fields

Scallops and risotto are my comfort foods, and together, they make my soul happy.

Recipe + Styling + Photography by Nik Fields

How are you dealing with these strange times?

These are definitely strange times, but I’ve always been guided by the mindset that every situation is a learning opportunity. At the conclusion of 2019, my focus had been on a planned eight-city tour for 2020 to promote my second book, “Aphrodisiac.” However, the pandemic changed those plans and challenged me to reframe my mindset on how I would like to grow my business in the new normal.

Considering this, the mind shift is what I needed, because it allowed me to focus on product enhancements, such as introducing new products, like my whisk and new spice blends, as well as put roots down with the opening of my first brick-and-mortar café/marketplace in downtown Phoenix in the fall.

How important has cooking been for you?

Cooking has been very important and instrumental in my life. Cooking centers me and allows my creative juices to flow, given my dietary restrictions. My husband and I are pollo-pescetarians, which is also a motivation for my organic olive oil and vinegar products. What’s more, my passion for cooking allows me to build bonds and break down barriers through food. It’s safe to say that my kitchen is my sanctuary.

Any tips for the rest of us?

Food waste is prevalent, and it can be mitigated by these three sustainability steps: portion control, regularly checking expiration dates, and shopping in your pantry before going to the store.

serves 2

5 to 6 cups chicken stock
2 cups baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into half-inch pieces
1⁄3 cup shallots, peeled and minced
2⁄3 cup dry white wine
13/4 cups Arborio rice
1⁄3 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme or chives for garnish

12 to 15 fresh scallops sea salt
cracked black pepper
olive oil

  1. For the risotto, In a stock pot, bring chicken stock to a simmer.
  2. Melt butter in a wide saucepan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add white wine and reduce.
  3. Add Arborio rice to vegetables.
  4. Add simmering stock, 1/2 cup at a time, to rice and vegetables, stirring enough to keep the rice from sticking to the edges of the pan. Stir the rice almost constantly. Stirring sloughs off the starch from the rice, making the creamy sauce you’re looking for in a risotto. Wait until the stock is almost completely absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. This process will take about 25 minutes. The rice should be just cooked and slightly chewy.
  5. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish with chives or fresh thyme. Serve topped with seared scallops.
  7. For the scallops: To obtain the perfect sear on your scallops, pat the scallops dry as much as possible.
  8. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper. Grab your best nonstick pan, preferably a cast iron one. Coat the pan with your favorite oil; I use Chic Chef Co. oil, of course. Drop in your scallops, but don’t overcrowd the pan.
  9. While the scallops are cooking, season the other side with salt and pepper. Cook scallops for about 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t fiddle with them during this process.
  10. Add a pat of butter to the pan, turn, and sear the other side for a few more minutes.
  11. You will have a perfectly seared scallop with a beautiful crust!