Make It Into a Cake!

Spring chives

With the exception of Spanish rice and Some Kind of Tube Pasta with Broccoli and Pumpkin Seed Pesto, the little people in this house aren’t too keen on leftovers. That’s unfortunate because we almost always have them so I make an attempt to re-purpose in hopes of cutting down on dinnertime whining. My solution is generally to put a fried egg on top or make it into a cake. Since Scott made a big, delicious pot of risotto last night, I opted for cakes tonight.

I took special delight in making this quick meal of risotto cakes and salad because my oft neglected pot of chives sprouted and are tall enough to provide a decent yield for the cakes and dressing. This recipe represents a basic formula: sticky rice mixture like risotto/ rice and beans + some sort of cheese + some sort of fresh herb + 1 egg + panko  = quick, tasty dinner.

Tonight’s cakes had an Italian theme (risotto, shredded mozzarella, chives), but you could also easily do more Southwest/Latin flavors with, say, beans and rice, cheddar and cilantro. The panko and pan frying gives a nice contrasting crunch. Your family may never know they are eating leftovers.

Risotto Cakes (Luca has named them “Rice Cakes” and Alia “Flattened Rice Cakes”)

adapted from Risotto Cakes with Mixed Greens

2 tablespoons chopped chives or scallion greens

2 cups leftover Risotto, chilled

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup or more panko bread crumbs

Vegetable oil for shallow frying (I use sunflower oil.)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Stir the chopped chives or scallions, mozzarella and egg into the chilled risotto. Season with salt and pepper (I find food loses some of its seasoning after being chilled, so check and season to taste). Form into 8-10 patties, using about 1/4 cup risotto mixture for each.

Place the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Lightly dredge each risotto cake in the crumbs, turning to coat evenly. Place on a plate lined with wax paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a medium large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the cakes, 2 or 3 at a time, until evenly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain; season with salt and pepper immediately.

I served these with a simple romaine lettuce and cherry tomato salad topped with a mustard vinaigrette (I omitted the parsley and capers). The vinaigrette is a great one to have in your arsenal . . . tasty on leafy greens and pasta salad with cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. It has tons of tang from Dijon mustard and sherry vinegar.


Me:  A (How can you go wrong with breaded and pan fried?)

Scott: A (“The crunch of the breadcrumbs adds a lot.)

Luca:  A+ (“This is better than the risotto.”)

Alia:  C (She said “A,” but there was much prodding for her to eat her dinner. She did finish it, so I would say a “C.”)