Food adventure: Sunflower Seed Risotto with Scallops

Apr 17, 2016 | Entree, Recipe

Food adventure time! Marc is gone this weekend so I did some cooking to entertain myself. Yes. Some people watch TV, I cook.

This idea is not my own but from My New Roots, which I discovered via this Food52 article. The internet is great, right? As soon as I saw this I knew I had to try it. Super weird but with the potential to be delicious – that’s how I like my food adventures.

I’ve actually been feeling pretty meh toward cooking recently. Turns out it’s much more fun when you only do it 1-2 days a week, as opposed to every. single. day. I’ve just been feeling burned out, and it doesn’t help that my intestines seem unhappy about anything I eat lately. This is a sad situation, since I actually love cooking, so with some free time this weekend I decided to make something kind of crazy. Enter the current situation: sunflower seed risotto.


The end result, in case you’re skeptical right now, is actually really good. But it’s not like real risotto at all, so if you’re craving some buttery carbs, go make real risotto. I think we’re calling this risotto because it’s made and used in a similar way. And sunflower seeds kind of look like rice? So you soak the seeds overnight, and then blend some of them into a creamy paste. The rest you simmer with water on the stove just like rice, and in the end you mix it all back together!
As noted in the Food52 article, simmered sunflower seeds end up looking like grey mush. Not the most appetizing. So then we top it with some blanched fresh veggies. The original recipe uses carrots, radish, romanesco broccoli, and peas. Peas are definitely high FODMAP, and I think romanesco is too (also I didn’t find any). So I used carrots (rainbow carrots actually, because my choices were either that or a five pound bag of normal carrots) and some radish. I also learned that I don’t really like radish that much. Like, a little is fine. But not a whole bite of nothing but radish.



So anyway, top your risotto with veggies. I knew that wouldn’t be enough for me though, since my body doesn’t really do well with a meal of only veggies and nuts. A quick internet search for risotto came up with this recipe on Pinch of Yum for risotto and scallops. Scallops! For a long time I wouldn’t touch the things because I thought they’d be chewy (mussels, on the other hand. Actually chewy). But no, they’re super tender and wow so delicious. Pricey, but so good. And they went perfectly with what I had going already. Not overpowering, but added a great flavor and texture to the dish.


These pictures really don’t do justice to the dish – they were taken by a starving person who was much more interested in actually eating the food. If you’re a visual person like myself and want to see the true potential of this dish, please look at these and these!

And then, since I had already ruined whatever vegan/vegetarian goal the recipe had originally intended, I went ahead and sprinkled some asiago cheese on top. Because everything needs asiago cheese on top. But this meal is wonderfully flexible in that it can be vegan/veg if you want it to be!

Sunflower Seed Risotto with Scallops | Go Messy or Go Hungry

Sunflower Seed Risotto with Scallops

Course Entree
Prep Time 6 hours
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 6 hours 30 minutes
Servings 8 servings of risotto



  • 2 ½ cups shelled raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (Olive oil or vegetable oil work as well)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves


  • Assorted seasonal vegetables like carrots and radishes
  • Handful of watercress per person stirred in before serving
  • Good quality olive oil
  • Lemon wedges
  • Flaky sea salt


  • 3-4 jumbo scallops per person
  • Oil for cooking
  • Salt to taste


  1. Soak the sunflower seeds overnight or all day in water with 2 tablespoons of salt.
  2. Drain and rinse the seeds. Take 1 cup of the sunflower seeds and place in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of water. Blend until creamy.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Smash the garlic cloves lightly with the flat side of a knife, remove the husk, and place in oil. Cook garlic until fragrant and opaque, about 2 minutes. Discard the garlic.
  4. Add the sunflower seeds (not the blended ones, just the whole oneto the pot with 2 cups of water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes or until al dente. Seeds should be “tender with only the slightest crunch still left in them.” Boil off any excess liquid.
  5. Add the blended sunflower seeds and stir to combine. Season with salt (and any other desired seasonings). Remove from the heat, add the watercress, and stir again to combine.
  6. For the vegetables: cut any large vegetables into roughly 1-inch pieces. Heat a pot of water to boiling and blanch until just cooked. You want them tender enough to eat but not mushy. Do this in batches if needed.
  7. While the water for the vegetables is boiling, heat a pan to medium high heat. Add the oil. Pat the scallops dry and season with salt. Cook the scallops for 2-3 minutes per side, until they are golden brown on the outside and opaque on the inside.
  8. When everything is ready, place about a ¼ cup of risotto in a bowl. Top with veggies and scallops. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice; sprinkle some salt on top. Add cheese if you desire, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Original recipe says this serves 4, but I feel like it’s more like 8. Turns out sunflower seeds are very filling!

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