Sofrito Scallops with Saffron Rice

It’s been five long years since we made this meal, can’t understand why because it’s fabulous! It only takes 45 minutes from start to finish so it’s a pretty impressive dish for a weeknight feast. Although the one thing I forgot to add this time around was the hot smoked paprika. Russ included it the first time and we loved the extra kick it provided.

Used with everything from beans, to meat, to fish, the versatile tomato-based sauce called sofrito is the soul of Latin American and Caribbean food. In this Cuban-inspired dish, bay scallops are tossed in the hot sofrito and then served with saffron-infused rice. The rice rallies up several notches with homemade shellfish stock replacing the water; so include it if at all possible. I also substituted tomato paste in place of the ketchup which added more body.

Cooking the meal for just the two of us provided enough leftovers for another meal altogether—and we weren’t complaining! This might come in handy over the hectic holiday season when you’re not in the mood to go out, or you want something quick, but a bit elegant.


Sofrito Scallops with Saffron Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1-1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 small green bell pepper, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 1 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano (used dried if fresh is unavailable)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. hot smoked paprika (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup homemade shellfish stock (or water)
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce, (or tomato paste)
  • 1 Tbs. ketchup
  • 1 lb. bay scallops
  • 1/2 lemon


  1. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil and the saffron in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until the saffron is sizzling. Add the rice and stir to coat.
  2. Add 3 cups shellfish stock (or water) and 1-1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute; reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stir once, cover, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 Tbs. oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, green pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in the oregano, cumin, smoked paprika (if using),1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato sauce and cup water; bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes.
  6. Stir in the ketchup (or tomato paste) and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. When the rice is ready, add the scallops to the hot sofrito and cook, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  8. Transfer the rice to a large platter and top with the scallop mixture; or divide all among four dinner plates. Season to taste with lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Julissa Roberts from Fine Cooking

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