The best Italian Seafood Risotto Frutti di Mare recipe; made with shrimp, mussels, baby clams, crab, a good white wine, lots of garlic, tomatoes and an exquisite saffron seafood stock. Originally from Lombardy the northern side of Italy, this Italian classic risotto has become a popular dish all around the world.
Easy to make, healthy and naturally gluten free, this otherwise known as Risotto alla Pescatora is what an authentic Italian risotto is all about.
Risotto is an Italian first course “primo” of rice (not pasta) cooked in some type of broth with butter or olive oil and onion. The technique requires a little bit of stirring to help release the starches from the rice grains to obtain a smooth and creamy dish.
Remember to taste as you go, the rice is cooked when al dente or “to the tooth” meaning with a little bite to it, not mushy.
Recipe Tips + FAQ
- Can’t find any mussels? Work with whatever seafood frutti di mare are in season. Double up on the clams or shrimp, maybe add some squid tentacles or a few baby scallops at the last minute.
- Make it without wine – simply replace it with some stock and bump up the lemon for extra zest!
- Wine pairing – this is a dish best served with a glass of chilled dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio, Soave or Verdicchio!
- Serving suggestions: Italian crusty bread, focaccia, bruschetta & garlic knots.
- Storage + Reheating – any leftover risotto can be stored in lidded glass containers and refrigerated for a couple of days (freezing is not recommended). Reheat on the stove top covered with a lid on medium low heat stirring often until heated through. Add a splash of veggie stock for a creamy texture.
- Note: I included the recipe for my homemade seafood stock below, but feel free to use a store bought vegetable stock and infuse it with some saffron when pressed for time. No cheese or cream is allowed in this seafood risotto.
Seafood Risotto Recipe (Frutti di Mare Risotto)
- 1 1/2 c Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 8 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbs butter
- 1 small onion or leek -finely diced
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes -quartered
- 5 cloves garlic -grated
- 3/4 lb wild shrimp - cleaned and shells reserved for stock
- 1/2 lb littleneck clams or baby clams -scrubbed clean
- 1/2 lb mussels -cleaned and beards removed
- meat from 1 cooked crab leg
- 5 tbs flat leaf Italian parsley -minced
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 1 lemon
- 1 pinch sea salt + more to taste
- 2 qt purified water
- Shells from 3/4 pounds of shrimp
- The shell from the crab leg - optional
- 1 carrot -cut into chunks
- 1 celery stalk – cut into chunks
- 8 sprigs parsley
- 2 leaves bay
- 1/4 small onion
- 10 peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp sea salt + more to taste
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- Start making the homemade seafood stock by combining all the stock ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a gentle simmer on low flame and cook for 1 hour. Remove the stock from the flame and strain through a fine mesh strainer. Stir in the saffron and allow to steep.
Make the Risotto:
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan heat up 3 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Add the minced onion or leek with a pinch of sea salt and sweat it on low heat for about 10 minutes until translucent.
- Stir in your risotto rice and allow it to toast for a few minutes until no longer opaque.
- Add the wine to the pan and stir until almost all is absorbed, but DO NOT let the rice dry out completely.
- Continue by adding the saffron infused stock a ladle at the time, waiting for the rice to absorb it before adding more. Make sure to maintain a constant ripple and NEVER ALLOW the RICE to DRY OUT.
- Continue cooking for about 20 minutes or until the rice grains are tender but have a little bite, Al Dente. Remove from the heat while it has the consistency of thick cream and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter for a silky finish .
- About 10 minutes before your risotto is done start cooking the seafood.
- Heat up a stainless steel skillet with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium low flame.
- Pat dry the shrimp with paper towels and drizzle it with a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Season with a pinch of sea salt, red pepper flakes and black pepper. Mix together with the grated garlic then add it to the hot skillet.Toss it around a couple of times and only cook it for a minute or two until it curls up and turns pink. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with a little freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan you cooked the shrimp in together with a pinch of sea salt. Hit it with the 1/4 cup of the white wine.
- Using a silicone spatula make sure to scrape up all the bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until the tomatoes burst and start releasing their juices to form a nice sauce with the wine.
- Add the cooked shrimp with the juices back to the pan together with the crab meat and 3 tbs of the minced parsley. Gently toss to coat and drizzle with a little more lemon juice and olive oil. Adjust seasoning to taste and set aside.
- In a different skillet heat up the remaining 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil over medium flame and add your clams and mussels. Hit it with a splash of stock or wine and cover with a lid. Cook until they open, about 3-5 minutes and discard all the unopened ones.
- Divide your risotto between 4 plates and top each with 5 shrimps, 4 clams, 3 mussels and 2 pieces of the crab meat.
- Drizzle the entire plate with a spoon full of the tomato and wine sauce from the shrimp and crab.
- Serve the seafood risotto with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil over the top and some chopped parsley.
- No mussels? No worries, double up on the clams or shrimp, maybe add some squid tentacles or a few baby scallops at the last minute.
- Make it without wine - simply replace it with some stock and bump up the lemon for extra zest!
- Wine pairing - this is a dish best served with a glass of chilled dry white wine, like a Pinot Grigio, Soave or Verdicchio!
- Storage + Reheating - any leftover risotto can be stored in lidded glass containers and refrigerated for a couple of days (freezing is not recommended). Reheat on the stove top covered with a lid on medium low heat stirring often until heated through. Add a splash of veggie stock for a creamy texture.
- You may also drizzle the risotto with a little bit of the juices from the clams and mussels if you prefer.